Businesses and Other Employers Linked to Schools
In assessing the linkages that schools might make with other institutions, there is one type of institution that stands out as particularly important: the employer, particularly the business organization, whether large or small. As has been pointed out in earlier chapters, many businesses have become intensely involved in collaborative or partnership activities with schools since the issuance of A Nation at Risk in 1983. Yet far too many of these partnerships have worked only at the margins, doing little to effect real school restructuring. Others have been one-sided or one- dimensional forcing attention onto changes that the schools must make, rather than recognizing that employer practices are also subject to change in the interaction that necessarily exists between schools and employers when they recognize their inherent interdependence.
This chapter will explore some of the reciprocal linkages that, in a holistic conception of the system in which schools and employers are embedded, might enhance the potential for real school improvements. Achieving this potential requires new understanding of the roles of employers, particularly large businesses, but also smaller businesses and other organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, who employ individuals within communities.