It has been over a decade since the publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), the scathing benchmark report on the condition of America's schools. That report, coupled with findings and recommendations from other blue-ribbon committees, councils, agencies, and foundations, called for sweeping school reform. The message was clear: Our schools are failing.
As a result of this failure, American youths are at risk of becoming involved with drugs, of dropping out of school, and of being incarcerated. These at-risk youths are ill-prepared to enter the work force of the 21st century.
Among the numerous recommendations was a call to invest those most involved in schooling and child development with greater authority. This approach promotes school-based management, thereby empowering parents and teachers in the decision-making process and forcing central administrators to relinquish much of their power. Site-based management involves decision making in the areas of curriculum, budget, general school policies, and personnel matters. Another initiative called for the lengthening of the school day and year; however, there has been concern over the cost of implementation in already overtaxed communities.
One recommendation that has generated much interest and support is the matching of schools with private-sector companies and universities. There are now successful partnerships that link colleges and corporate sponsors with neighborhood schools. Frequently, the sponsor provides financial support as well as tutoring and career counseling. An innovative variation of this exists in New York State. As part of the statewide celebration of the Decade of the Child, Matilda R. Cuomo, wife of the former governor, founded the New York State Mentoring Program. This program recruits caring adults from a variety of sources-business, civic groups, municipal agencies, and …