Partnership Is a Two-Way Street: What It Takes for Business to Help Drive School Reform

Read the full paper as an Adobe Acrobat PDF

View the Press Release

American K-12 schooling is in need of transformative improvement, and business can play a valuable role in retooling school systems for the new century. Business can provide the leverage, expertise, and leadership that will help educators and public officials make tough decisions and take hard steps they may not take on their own.

Too often, business has put its good intentions to work in the service of ineffectual systems. While volunteer tutoring and college scholarships are beneficial, this kind of involvement will not power the transformative change needed to significantly increase student achievement. If business leaders are serious about school improvement, they must play a more forceful role and drive harder bargains with state officials and school district educators.They must insist that in return for their support, educators will use new resources and tools to transform--not merely subsidize--public education in the United States.

What kind of business involvement does it take to truly make a difference in the education arena? Business can function as a critical customer, a partner, or a policy advocate. Leaders in Austin, Nashville, and Massachusetts adopted each of these roles, thus stepping up to make a big difference in K-12 schooling. In each case, business leaders talked seriously and bluntly with educators. They recruited respected experts to lead the reform efforts. They built sustainable structures, brought top-level executives to the table, and stayed engaged. They tackled tough questions, understood that some steps would be political and unpopular, and took the heat when there was pushback.

In communities across America, business leaders recognize that K-12 schooling can and must do better. With the right approach, transformational change is possible. It's time for business leaders to roll up their sleeves and get to it.

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI. Whitney Downs is a research assistant at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Frederick M.
Hess

What's new on AEI

Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal
image Smelling liberal, thinking conservative
image Stopping Ebola before it turns into a pandemic
image All too many reasons for pessimism about Europe
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Event Registration is Closed
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.