Educational Policy Practice: Facing Competition against Complacency

Article excerpt

This article calls for colleges and schools of education to become more market-responsive to the specific needs of urban school districts. The authors warm of the emergence of "corporate universities" effecting the education training sector. A balance must be developed between what professors want to teach and what students need to learn as both groups face increased complexities in urban settings.

The Public Policy and Practice Problem

In an era when graduates from programs in educational administration are entering the increasingly competitive marketplace of education, it will become pointedly more critical for schools and colleges of education to respond to the surrounding market and create automatic (and measurable) systematic linkages between the public-subsidized universities and the constituent school districts. This is particularly paramount in the state's urban center and metropolitan venues. Public educators, in Florida as well as the rest of the U.S., are now facing, with the emergence of competitors to reach their tax-paying clients. These competitors range from voucher advocates to charter school enthusiasts; and private entrepreneurs to parochial school leaders. And, of course, the acceleration of "virtual high schools."

The Paradox at Precedent

In the corporate sector, there is a profound escalation of "corporate universities" as the result, in part, of schools and colleges of business failing to meet the required needs of the corporate sector. Like educational institutions, they too, exist in an increasingly competitive market and they must produce the measurable results to sustain that existence. Corporate universities grew from 400 ten years ago to 1600 today, and 90% have gone to virtual offerings of courses online. Ninety-two percent of large corporations plan web-based training in 1999, according to Buckman Laboratories, Inc. This only reinforces earlier findings referenced by Shane (1987) in Teaching and Learning in a Microelectronic Age. In a survey of 200 companies, 75% indicated that they found it essential to provide classes in remedial education to high-school graduated workers. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1985) in U.S. News and World Report has also reported that nearly eight million adults were in training programs funded by business. Although theses sources are somewhat dated, there is substantial evidence and widespread agreement that this condition has not recessed; but rather, progressed in business and industry. More recently, Linkage, Inc. estimated that corporations of all sizes will invest more than $60 million in external corporate training at a time when their higher education counterparts continue, in part, to remain steadfast with academic tradition and conventional methods to instructional program delivery.

The Paralleling Analogy

This shift could occur in the education sector, particularly in Florida, if business continues to be conducted "as usual." We, too, must produce results that yield progress and success of our outcomes. That is, learning outcomes that produce higher test scores and improved student achievement. The transformation in the corporate sector could serve as a prototype for what is to come in Florida and the rest of the U.S. As highlighted by colleagues in Florida, "the state enters the next century with educational attainment in the lowest quartile of the fifty states . …

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