Meeting District Needs

Johns Hopkins Forges Ed. Industry Partnership

By Jason Tomassini — March 06, 2012 2 min read
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The Johns Hopkins University School of Education and the Education Industry Association, a trade group, are partnering to develop curriculum, research, and business-development programs around education entrepreneurship.

The goal is to help prepare the next generation of business leaders in education and improve the relationship between the public and private sectors, leaders of the two entities said.

“We have to leverage every sector of the [education] business,” Henry Smith, the executive director of the office of partnerships for educational transformation at Johns Hopkins, said in an interview. “There’s a $4 billion business here that’s been ignored by the education industry. We are no longer ignoring it.”

As part of the venture, announced Feb. 23, Hopkins will establish a new Doctor of Education program and an education business “incubator,” and it will provide independent research for education companies. The EIA, along with its members, will help develop curriculum, commission research, and offer access to top executives and officials working in private and public K-12 education.

“It’s a chance for future students to learn at the elbows of seasoned entrepreneurs who have the battle scars of public-private partnerships,” Steve Pines, the executive director of the EIA, said in an interview. The group, based in Vienna, Va., represents more than 300 organizations, including education management organizations, publishers, consultants, and online education companies.

Framing Research Questions

Students can already enroll for the “revamped” three-year, part-time Ed.D. program, which begins at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, next fall. New courses about the education industry will be offered, and existing curricula in history, policy, and finance will be given an entrepreneurship and business focus, Mr. Smith said. Courses will be offered online and in person.

The partnership is also taking aim at a muddy area of education: research into for-profit education initiatives. Johns Hopkins, a leading private research university, will provide research—independently, Mr. Pines and Mr. Smith stressed—to EIA members looking for performance data or insight on their products and services.

A lack of reliable data is often cited as a barrier to greater cooperation between public education and for-profit companies. Mr. Smith said that, in most cases, the relationship with education businesses will help frame the right questions for Johns Hopkins researchers, who will initiate their own studies.

James G. Cibulka, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, in Washington, said the “boundary-spanning” partnership is a good idea that represents recent innovations in education. But it is important that the parameters of any research resulting from the partnership be clearly stated, he said.

“It’s important to establish clear policies and procedures that, as much as possible, separate out advocacy research from research which purports to be independent and objective,” he said.

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Coverage of the education industry and K-12 innovation is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the March 08, 2012 edition of Education Week as Johns Hopkins Forges Ed. Industry Partnership

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