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Harvard Business School Students Urge Reforms in Public Schools

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A group of Harvard Business School students who spent last summer working for corporations and organizations involved in business-education partnerships has sent a message to the business community: "Address the education crisis now."

In a report on their experiences, the graduate students write: "We began this project with a general sense of civic responsibility. We leave with the conviction that our nation's competitiveness and future standard of living are at stake."

"Today's business leaders cannot wait and pass these problems on to the next generation of business leaders," they write in the report, which will be distributed to associates of the National Alliance of Business.

The project was a joint effort of the nab and the Harvard Business School and was funded by the H. Ross Perot Foundation. Twenty-one graduate students passed up internships on Wall Street to work in business-education partnership programs in Atlanta, Boston, New York, St. Louis, and Washington.

In each city, students compared and evaluated the effectiveness of a wide range of educational-improvement efforts, applied standard business practices to help improve management of existing initiatives, and helped plan new programs designed to produce long-term effects.

'Political Pressure' Urged

The report recommends actions in three areas: awareness, political involvement, and accountability.

First, the students urge that business leaders develop a deeper understanding of the complex problems facing schools. To do that, they suggest they use their professional skills to support the management of schools.

Second, they recommend that the business community advocate policy changes at the local, state, and national levels by promoting "true structural reform legislation."

"Change is messy, frustrating, and time-consuming," writes Gregory S. Stroup, who worked as an intern with the Atlanta Partnership of Business and Education Inc. "Business must own the problem and act accordingly. Political pressure on all levels is mandatory."'

Third, the report says that the business community should call for regular and sustained assessment of outcomes.

For a copy of the report, "Education: The Next Battleground for Corporate Survival," or more information, contact the National Alliance of Business, Youth in Education Office, 1201 New York Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.--rrw

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