ERIC Identifier: ED287650 Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Warden, Judy E. Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Rural Education and Small Schools Las Cruces NM.
Establishing Partnerships between the Business Community and
An effective way to help develop a strong rural educational program is
to establish a business partnership between the rural school and the business
community. Once this relationship is in place, the advantages for both the
schools and business community can prove beneficial to the entire rural
community. For a partnership between a business and a school to be effective,
each party must be willing to define its specific needs and demonstrate a desire
to make the partnership work.
WHAT IS A SCHOOL-BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP?
Generally defined, a partnership is a mutual agreement between a business and
a school to establish certain goals, and to construct a reasonable means of
achieving those goals. The term "school-business partnership" is distinguished
from the "adopt a school" concept by the fact that a true school-business
partnership is not an inner-city program geared toward helping only
disadvantaged students. The present focus of school-business partnerships is on
improving the overall educational system and perhaps aiding in community
development as well.
WHAT KINDS OF PARTNERSHIPS EXIST?
The types of partnerships that are formed between a school and a business
depend on what each party hopes to achieve. The objectives of each party will
determine whether the type of partnership will be directly involved in the
overall school program or whether it will be indirectly involved, or involved in
just a specific area of the school program. Some school-business partnerships
are only partnerships in the sense that both parties wish the relationship be as
uncomplicated as possible. In this kind of partnership the business might
provide funds and equipment for the school program while the school might
reciprocate by publicly giving credit to the business. Another type of
partnership, the long-term partnership, is usually more complex in nature.
Long-term partnerships usually have well-defined purposes, and both parties work
closely together to accomplish their objectives. These partnerships often
provide programs to help enrich school programs, such as sending professional
business people to teach mini-courses. Long-term partnerships are frequently
concerned with developing enriching career education programs and providing
HOW CAN PARTNERSHIPS BE EFFECTIVE FOR THE RURAL SCHOOL?
Along with today's emphasis on effective education comes the constant
pressure of budget cutbacks of public education funds. Forming a strong
school-business partnership can help ease some of the budget woes, permit the
business community to take responsibility for the quality of education, and make
the transition from school to work easier. Rural schools frequently do not have
the monies for new equipment or innovative teaching projects. Partnerships can
help supply funds and professional expertise for hands-on projects or pilot
programs which the rural school budget may not be able to cover but which the
school wants to incorporate into its curriculum. An example of this might be an
agreement between a local bank and a school to stimulate life skill activities
as motivating factors to achieving learning objectives. Often businesses can
provide workshops for students and staff, provide up-to-date equipment, or
provide direct on-the-job training. Many partnerships are formed because both
the rural school and business community find themselves concerned about the lack
of rural career enrichment programs. With budget cuts and the increased
attention being given to the back-to-basics movement, schools are finding that
they have to decide whether they can afford to include arts and humanities in
their curriculum. Rural educators who are concerned about the importance of arts
and humanities to students' overall educational and cultural growth should look
toward possible partnerships to fulfill this need.
Arts and humanities programs frequently discover a need to bring in outside
instructional resources. Again, partnerships can fill that void by functioning
as a liaison for the school and a cultural center, for example. With the support
of a partnership, schools can encourage teachers to work closely with cultural
centers to stimulate student creativity.
HOW CAN BUSINESS BENEFIT FROM THE SCHOOL-BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP?
A good partnership may prove to be invaluable to both the rural school and
the business community. By cooperating with the rural schools in developing
strong career and educational programs, the rural business community may not
have to depend on outside skilled help. Large businesses which form partnerships
with rural schools are assuring their own future with the knowledge that the
future work force may be the finished product of their involvement in quality
WHY ARE PARTNERSHIPS FORMED?
--Mutual desire to improve the quality of education. Rural schools are
usually too small to offer a large variety of educational services. Too often,
enriching activities such as field trips and special workshops are not available
to rural schools. The reasons for this vary--lack of funding, lack of
facilities, or simply a lack of qualified staff. In order to give rural school
students the same opportunities for quality education which are available to
many urban schools, outside resources should be considered. A good partnership
can bring in a wide range of fields and professionals to satisfy the need and
contribute to the broadening of rural students' social and career perspectives.
--A need to uplift the morale of the educational system and the rural
community regarding education. While the back-to-basics movement itself may not
be a hard subject to deal with, recent criticism of public education has, to
some extent, taken its toll on school and community morale. The business
community can play a vital role in uplifting the morale of both the educational
system and the community by being involved in the whole school program.
Partnerships can function as a liaison in the improvement of community-school
--The school's need for financial funding. Rural schools with a budget that
usually just covers the bare necessities can benefit from the formation of a
good partnership. Outdated school equipment can be replaced with modern
equipment with monies from partnerships. Buildings, renovations, and computers
are just a few extras that business partnerships can provide.
HOW CAN PARTNERSHIPS BE FORMED?
A partnership can be initiated by either a school or a business. To form a
partnership, communication must be established. Each party should be willing to
take time to sit down and draw up a definite set of goals. The parties involved
must be committed to the time and effort it takes to make a good partnership.
Individuals selected from each side should be comfortable working outside their
environment and relate well to people. Business-school partnerships can be
extremely rewarding--but to work, they need total commitment from both parties.
WHAT ARE SOME SUCCESSFUL EXAMPLES OF SCHOOL-BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS?
--A good example of a rural community education program took place in a
community in Iowa with two companies and the schools of that community. The main
goal of that partnership was to give students education and experience in the
--In Virginia, a partnership was set up with the Chesapeake Corporation of
Virginia to solve the math teacher shortage. In this partnership, business
provided engineers to schools to teach advanced math classes.
--A rural community in Utah formed a partnership to provide educational
opportunities for students via a live telelearning network.
--Rural communities in North Carolina realized that they needed stronger
mathematics and science programs, so partnerships were utilized to fill the
--Southern Georgia has the Marvin Pittman Laboratory School which works with
schools in the development of new teaching approaches.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Clark, Donald M. "Partnerships in Education--The Latest Fad or A Long Term
Solution to Education Reform." WORKPLACE EDUCATION December 1984:8, 17.
DeLargy, Paul. "Rural Schools and Community Education." SMALL SCHOOL FORUM 2
Grimshaw, William F. "Ensuring Excellence in Education for Rural America."
Paper presented at the Rural Education Seminar, Washington, DC, May 3-5, 1982.
ED 216 840.
Lake, Sara. PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION. Redwood City, CA: San Mateo
Educational Resource Center (SMERC), December 1985.
Lick, Dale W. RURAL SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS WITH HIGHER EDUCATION AND THE PRIVATE
SECTOR. Washington, DC: United States Department of Education, National Rural
Education Forum, August 1985. ED 258 789.
"School Business Partnerships." EXEMPLARY PRACTICE SERIES. Bloomington,
Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa, Center on Evaluation, Development and Research,
Stainback, George H., Claiborne R. Winborne, and S. John Davis. "Our
School/Business Partnership is a Smash." AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL September
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