Revitalizing a Dying School-Business Partnership
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The notion of business involvement in helping to improve public schools is not new. Although business involvement faded somewhat in the 1960s and 1970s, a resurgence in business involvement began in the late seventies and early eighties. School-business partnerships have been steadily on the rise from around 40,000 in 1983 to over 200,000 by the mid-1990's.
When schools and businesses become involved in partnerships certain conditions must be present for the partnerships to succeed. Those conditions include awareness, clear and measurable goals and objectives by both partners, the necessity of identifying potential resources and talent, reciprocal benefits for participants, and the ability to carry out formal evaluation of the program.
The purpose of this study was to attempt to save a school-business partnership that had the potential to make a significant contribution to both a middle school and a large employer in Southside Virginia. By identifying the variables involved in both the erosion and revitalization of a school-business partnership, the information could prove valuable to others who may be struggling to maintain or renew partnerships in their schools or businesses.
This study was conducted in two phases. The first phase involved the identification of the variables which contributed to the disintegration of a school-business partnership. The second phase involved using a 12-step partnership development process created by the National Association for Partners in Education to revitalize the partnership. A series of interviews, surveys, and questionnaires, as well as a search of current school data were used to determine the variables present in both phases.
In phase I of the study, a serious lack of communication, perhaps even miscommunication, appeared to lead to the total shutdown of the partnering process. This breakdown in communication prevented other possibilities for success. The absence of goals or a formal agreement on the nature of the partnership also appeared to be one of its major downfalls.
Phase II of the investigation involved partnership renewal. The major ingredients necessary for partnership development were communication; awareness; reciprocal benefits to participants; mutually acceptable, clear goals and objectives; the ability to carry out formal, on-going evaluation of the partnership; continuous recognition of good works by the stakeholders; and the use of the National Association for Partners in Education 12-step process as both a diagnostic and prescriptive resource for partnering.
School-business partnerships, like all other human endeavors, require understanding, nurturing and support. By attempting to understand and embrace the needs of each partner, the true promise of this very human endeavor may be realized. Developing and revitalizing school-business partnerships is not only possible, but essential if we hope to create the type of learning communities necessary to the total education of children.
- Doctoral Dissertations