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Partnerships Column

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The president of New York State's largest teacher organization this month proposed a five-point partnership plan to move business-education relationships beyond what he sees as rhetoric and into constructive action.

Thomas Y. Hobart, president of New York State United Teachers, implored business leaders to support school-restructuring efforts by campaigning for the redistribution of tax dollars to poorer districts.

To prevent at-risk youths from neglecting schoolwork, he added, businesses should be more discerning in hiring high-school students for after-school jobs.

High schools and industry also must work closely to design curricula that will ensure the teaching of relevant skills for the modern job market, the union chief argued. In this goal, he included a call for business policies to reward academic achievement in high school with such workplace benefits as higher pay.

Mr. Hobart said businesses and educators must formulate a system of career advancement to ensure that a high-school graduate with no higher degree will not be stuck in a "dead-end job."

Finally, he said, corporations must establish mentoring programs to provide positive role models for at-risk children.

The plan was unveiled at a superintendents' conference in Olean, N.Y.


To mark the 10th anniversary of its tutoring program, The Travelers insurance company has released a study saying the one-on-one effort has enhanced language skills, improved oral-reading abilities, and given more self-confidence to the estimated 1,200 3rd through 6th graders who have participated in it.

The program currently involves 140 predominantly black and Latino students from three Hartford, Conn., elementary schools, who get together with Travelers employees once a week for structured academic assignments and informal interaction.

The study, conducted by the University of Connecticut in Storrs, recommends greater coordination between school and business administrators, better record keeping to quantify results, and more thorough training for tutors in minority-student issues.


In the first venture of its kind, the Republic of Zimbabwe has "adopted" a District of Columbia elementary school.

A formal ceremony sealed the pact when the Zimbabwean ambassador, Stanaslaus Chigwedere, and Erasmo Garza, principal of Ross Elementary School, signed a pact that includes a mentoring program, embassy visits, and possible student exchanges between the southern African nation and Ross.--jw

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