Partnerships Column

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To be effective brokers for education reform, business leaders must address six strategic concerns, concludes a study by Public/Private Ventures, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit research organization.

These six areas, highlighted in "The Business Leader's Guide to Partnerships for Education Reform,'' are identifying what fundamental reform is and why it is needed; establishing whether a school system is ready for partnerships, and what to do if it is not; setting an agenda for change; converting the latent power of the business community into legitimate power as an education player; organizing an effective structure for collaboration; and evaluating the endeavor's progress.

All too often, the report states, business leaders have enthusiastically leaped into education-reform efforts without first defining what their ultimate objectives are, or without knowing how to create a climate conducive to change or how to build the coalitions necessary to sustain their efforts.

Interspersed with the examination of reform strategies in the 68-page report are brief case studies charting the successes and failures of business-education partnerships in 10 cities.

Copies of the report are available for $10 each from Public/Private Ventures, Communications Department, 399 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106; (215) 592-9099.

Also likely to be of interest to business leaders and educators alike is "Agents of Change,'' a recent publication from The Business Roundtable's education task force.

The colorful report, a compilation of exemplary corporate policies and practices in education, includes dozens of brief descriptions of model programs established by businesses to help public schools.

The report defines "model'' involvement as instances in which businesses demonstrate commitment among their top leadership as well as among all levels of their employees; create an internal environment that facilitates their employees' ability to become involved in education; and invest both financial and personnel resources in systemic-change initiatives, among other areas.

The booklet is available free of charge from Christopher Cross at the Business Roundtable, 1615 L St., N.W., Suite 1350, Washington, D.C. 20036; fax: (202) 466-3509.

A number of the corporations listed in the "Agents of Change'' booklet were among those honored in New York City last month during the annual meeting of the Conference Board, a research and information association for some of the nation's largest companies.

The Boeing Company, Chevron Corporation, the Dow Chemical Company, Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, Merck & Company Inc., Ashland Oil Inc., Humana Inc., and United Parcel Service were named the winners of the Conference Board's third annual "Best in Class'' awards at a ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan.

The Conference Board also presented "Education Honor Roll'' awards to two retired chief executive officers for their leadership in education: Katharine Graham, the former publisher of The Washington Post, and Lee Iacocca, the former chairman of the Chrysler Corporation.

One relatively new way in which some corporations have become involved with education on a local level is through the creation of "satellite'' schools, which are small annexes to local schools located in or near business worksites.

A recent report by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation concludes that satellite schools can save taxpayers millions of dollars in land-purchase and school-construction costs.

In addition, the report states, businesses often benefit through tax breaks and improved employee attendance and performance.

An evaluation of satellite-school programs in Dade County, Fla., cited in the report also found that the annex schools helped reduce transportation costs, because children commuted with their parents rather than took buses.

In addition, the evaluation found, the schools fostered greater diversity in the racial and ethnic makeup of the student population.

Copies of the report are available for $5 each from the Reason Foundation, 3415 South Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, Calif. 90034; (310) 391-2245.

Establishing connections with the numerous organizations involved in school reform can sometimes be a daunting task, so a Chicago-based group has published a guide to help local educators better use these resources.

The guide, "School Help: 105 Resources for Chicago School Improvement,'' features charts that group organizations by their focus of assistance, such as teaching and curriculum, school organization and restructuring, or parent and community involvement.

The guide also includes an alphabetical listing of organizations with a brief description of their focuses as well as their addresses and phone numbers.

Copies of the guide are available for $2 each plus mailing charges from Designs for Change, 220 South State St., Suite 1900, Chicago, Ill. 60604; (312) 922-0317.--M.S.

Vol. 12, Issue 28

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