June 22, 1994

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Vol. 13, Issue 39
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Foundations and religious organizations must work together more closely and expand joint efforts to help their communities, agreed some 150 grantmakers, religious leaders, and others gathered at a conference here last week.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute last week awarded $10.3 million to 42 biomedical-research institutions to help improve the quality of K-12 science education in their communities.
College professors in the United States are not alone in feeling that students arrive on campus lacking adequate skills, according to a study slated for release this week by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Arts education is good for business. For many business executives, that proposition rings like a leaden tuning fork. Year after year, arts groups camp like mendicants on their doorsteps, seeking support for the local symphony or for yet another struggling, avant-garde theater group.
Few issues in education today seem at once so appealing and so frightening as the notion of a local school district hiring a private company to come in and run its schools.
Contrary to the dreary prognoses for America's children that fill our nation's press, we at the Edison Project see something far more promising going on in communities across the country. Concerned parents, civic leaders, and educators are actively seeking to change their schools in profound and exciting ways-and are increasingly turning to the private sector for assistance.
A recent headline in our local newspaper, "Briggs & Stratton axes 2,000 jobs," gets right to the heart of the fears that school people have about doing business with the private sector.
Those who hope to improve public schools by privatizing their management should keep their eyes on Baltimore, where the largest experiment of its kind in the country i under way.
Public services are being privatized everywhere. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago has already privatized 40 services formerly performed by public workers, moves he says have improved services, reduced costs, and, in the case of towing abandoned cars, turned a $6 million profit while taking more than 186,000 cars off the streets. The Mayor receives high marks for attending to the city's business while keeping an eye on improving services and reducing costs.
Over the past 20 years, Florida's educational system has been challenged by growth in the number and percent of students who are disabled, whose native language is not English, and who are economically disadvantaged. At the same time, our students have become increasingly mobile-within and among Florida school districts, between Florida and other states, and between Florida and other countries.
The option of private management for public schools and school districts has emerged as a serious possibility- not necessarily because it is unquestionably better, but because it forces a debate that has been too long absent from the policy arena: What are kids learning?
While doing research for a book on school reform in three different communities, I came to understand more clearly the difficulties of working for systemic change within large educational bureaucracies.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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