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ERIC Identifier: ED234103
Publication Date: 1983-04-00
Author: Ascher, Carol
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education New York NY.

School Learning and Corporation-School Alliances. ERIC/CUE Fact Sheet Number 16.

As federal support for education has declined, corporations have become more actively involved in corporation-school alliances, moving beyond participation in government-subsidized work-study and other training programs.

Educators no longer object to business involvement in education as the need for assistance increases. Executives recognize that business should become more involved in ensuring that schools teach the basic skills necessary for increasingly complicated entry-level jobs, in addition to encouraging habits of punctuality, neatness, and responsibility.


Business executives and educators disagree about the skills necessary for entry level jobs, according to a recent survey by the Center for Public Resources (Henry 1982). While business executives generally consider some knowledge in math and science as prerequisites for employment, school personnel do not.

Moreover, most educators believe their students are adequately prepared in all basic skills but writing; company executives complain of serious deficiencies in reading, reasoning, speaking/listening, math and science, in addition to writing.


To solve problems in communication and to work toward joint resolution of economic problems in education, corporate and educational institutions are developing some of the following cooperative enterprises.

Education-Work Councils and Industry-Education-Labor Councils

These autonomous action-oriented councils now exist in over 100 cities and may include government, business, labor, community groups, and school people. All seek to identify issues related to improving education, particularly those issues involving the transition from school to work.

Local Executives

Local corporations are placing executives on school boards to assist in policymaking.

Educational Materials

Free booklets, films, cassettes, and other audiovisual materials on communications, economics, ecology, and business have been contributed by corporations to schools for a number of years. Educators who are uneasy about using corporation-sponsored materials can follow guidelines established by the National Council for Social Studies and the National Science Teachers Association.

Adopt-A-School and Adopt-A-Program

These programs create ties between a school district, a school, or an education program and a business. (Sometimes civic or religious groups also adopt schools.) Businesses typically have offered school management studies, advisory committees, and specific program recommendations as well as job placement services, pamphlets, speakers, classroom demonstrations, and field trips to local companies.

Increasingly, corporations are contributing computer terminals and lending trained personnel. Responding to pressure to upgrade mathematics and science teaching, some schools are also trading school resources for the loan of a professional from industry to teach advanced level courses in these subjects.


Foundations are created by one or more corporations to fund specific local school improvement programs in an effort to replace some of the lost federal dollars. Most of these foundations give money to specific projects rather than to a general school budget.

Exchange Programs

These programs have been developed to bridge the communication gap. A teacher may spend several weeks in industry and become familiar with the basic skills necessary in the workplace, while an employee of that industry joins the school staff, learns about the school system, and offers some teaching.

Work-Study Programs

These are among the most common types of business-school cooperation. Increasingly, both educators and business executives are concerned about ensuring that both work and classroom time are spent developing basic skills.


Over 2,000 summaries of private sector initiative projects, including 200 in education, have been entered into a computerized project data bank as a result of the President's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives. The National Commission on Excellence and the regional offices of the United States Department of Education are also gathering information on private/public partnerships in education.

Still, most of the literature on business-education alliances focuses on higher education. Until now, corporation-public school projects have not been systematically studied. Because of this, most of the lessons to be learned from existing programs are impressionistic, and recommendations are consistent with good planning in any area. Commitment and authority on the part of the school superintendent and the executive officer, sufficient time and resources for planning, built-in evaluations, good screening devices, and appropriate materials are among the recommendations being made.


Despite the growth of private investment in public education, some business executives and some educators remain skeptical about such increased involvement.

Many business people still believe that the school is responsible for ensuring that students master the basic skills.

Many educators, scarred by a decade of heavy criticism (in part from the business community), are wary of being saddled with the potentially unrealistic mission of reversing trends in declining worker productivity and growing unemployment.

Educators also note that, until now, actual corporate investment in public education has been extremely small and that, despite the corporate view that workers need basic skills, most of the little money that was spent on curriculum went to career or vocational education, not to basic skills.

Some educators also worry that materials provided by corporations have their own markets and ideological biases and may impede the development of necessary consumer skepticism. Finally, school personnel are concerned that most business intervention programs have no guidelines and are not accountable to the school community.


Hansen, Shirley, and Becky Shergens. "Business/Education Partnerships: Making Them Education's Business." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 63 (1982): 694-695.

Harty, Sheila. "Hucksters in the Classroom." SOCIAL POLICY 12 (1981):38-42.

Henry, James F., and Susan Ueber Raymond. BASIC SKILLS IN THE U.S. WORK FORCE: THE CONTRASTING PERCEPTIONS OF BUSINESS, LABOR AND PUBLIC EDUCATION. New York: Center for Public Resources, 1982.

Knecht, G. Bruce. "Corporate Compact with Boston's Schools." DUN'S BUSINESS MONTH 12 (May 1983):81-82.

Leonard, Mary. "Reaganomics and K-12 Education: Some Responses from the Private Sector." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 64 (1982):600-602.

Moran, Mary E. "Improving Schools Through Private Sector Partnerships." AMERICAN EDUCATION 19 (January/February 1983):5-8.

Ozman, Howard. "Adopt-a-School: Definitely Not Business as Usual." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 63 (1982):341-376.

Stainbeck, George H. and others. "Our School/Business Partnership Is a Smash." AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL 170 (September l983):42.

Timpane, Michael. CORPORATIONS AND PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE CITIES. Report to the Carnegie Corporation. New York: Columbia University, 1982.


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