The Private Sector in the Public School: Can It Improve Education?

The Private Sector in the Public School: Can It Improve Education?

The Private Sector in the Public School: Can It Improve Education?

The Private Sector in the Public School: Can It Improve Education?

Excerpt

Over the past decade scholars at the American Enterprise Institute have devoted considerable attention to private sector initiatives in areas of human need, including health care, neighborhood revitalization, housing, and education. The publication of Peter L. Berger andRichard John Neuhaus seminal work To Empower People: The Role of Mediating Structures in Public Policy initiated this endeavor. A series of volumes on the role of mediating structures followed. Meeting Human Needs: Toward a New Public Philosophy (Jack A. Meyer , ed., AEI, 1982), for example, included a description of private sector involvement in education and identified the increasing role of business and industry as a provider of education and training and the developing role of the corporate community as a partner in public education.

Since that publication corporate concern about quality education and involvement with public schools has grown enormously. AEI's Education Policy Studies group has maintained a continuing interest in these developments, specifically, in the philosophical and policy implications of such public-private sector interaction.

The project recorded in this volume was itself carried out in the spirit of public-private partnership--a joint effort by AEI and the National Institute of Education. The competing views of business, labor, academics, and practitioners were developed in commissioned papers and presented at a conference attended by educators, policy analysts, and business representatives.

The presenters and discussants do not challenge the basic assumption that public education is a public responsibility. Given that assumption, they address the question of the appropriate role of the private sector in the public schools. They do not suggest that the private sector should or could substitute for or even significantly augment public funding. Rather, they focus on the potential influence the corporate community can have on public policy in education, the impact of a corporate advocacy role in support of public schools, and the value of programmatic involvement with schools on the local level. Participants go well beyond a recounting of examples of corporate involvement in public education (such as adopt-a-school programs or loaned executives) and address fundamental questions of public sector-private sector relationships, roles, and responsibilities. The philosophical and institutional barriers to partnerships are identified as are such public policy issues as equity in resources for public . . .

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