Budget & Finance

Harvard To Study Rise Of For-Profit Education

By Mark Walsh — April 19, 2000 1 min read

In another sign that business participation in education is growing, Harvard University has launched a program to monitor corporate involvement in schools and the for-profit education industry.

The David T. Kearns Program on Business, Government, and Education will be housed at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The program is named for Mr. Kearns, who became the deputy U.S. secretary of education during President Bush’s administration after leading Xerox Corp.'s corporate resurgence in the 1980s as chairman and chief executive officer.

Mr. Kearns, 69, the chairman emeritus of New American Schools, a nonprofit, Arlington, Va.-based organization that supports “break the mold” school improvement designs, has written extensively about business involvement in schools and has taught at Harvard’s graduate school of education.

Under the Kearns program, Harvard faculty members will research the pros and cons of business involvement in education and expose students in both the Kennedy School and the school of education to some of the entrepreneurial ideas being tried, said Joseph S. Nye Jr., the dean of the Kennedy School.

Learning From Businesses

Roger B. Porter, a former senior aide to President Bush and the head of the Kennedy School’s Center for Business and Government, said one goal of the Kearns program could be to help figure out ways to evaluate the effectiveness of corporate involvement in education.

“The role of business in education is now potentially just huge, and it’s not confined to charter schools,” Mr. Porter said April 5 during the Kennedy School’s third annual symposium examining business and education.

John D. Donahue, a lecturer in public policy at the school, will be the faculty chairman of the Kearns program.

“Americans are really good at business,” Mr. Donahue said. “The question is, how can America’s strong suit of private business be deployed to shore up its weak suit, education?”

Harvard’s creation of the Kearns program follows the establishment last year of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, headed by the education scholar Henry M. Levin.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 19, 2000 edition of Education Week as Harvard To Study Rise Of For-Profit Education

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