The DeHavilland Blog

Friday, April 28, 2006

The public wants partnerships

Just came across the results of a very exciting survey the Carnegie Corporation put forth as part of their Schools for a New Society initiative. Conducted by Widmeyer Research and polling, the survey collected data from a nationally representative sample of urban adults, assessing attitudes about public education offered at urban high schools and the role of school districts and other organizations in improving public education.

Carnegie found overwhelming support for the idea of community partnerships in urban education, with groups including local not-for-profits, colleges, teacher unions, local businesses, and parent groups all involved in the call to action. Specific survey results include:

  • 91% of Americans agree with the statement that every public high school should be as good as the community’s very best.
  • 92% agree with the statement that successful high school reform must include changes in how the school district manages its high schools.
  • More than 4 in 5 Americans (86%) agree with the statement that political, education, and community leaders must work together to change the situation where high school resources are not handed out fairly among high schools.
  • More than 4 in 5 Americans (83%) say that community members and organizations should share either a “great deal” or “some” responsibility for reforming or improving urban public high schools. These include community not-for-profit organizations that focus on education and children.
  • More than 9 in 10 Americans (94%) say that parents and other adults should share some of the responsibility for reforming or improving urban public high schools.
  • More than 4 in 5 Americans (85%) say the larger community outside of the school district should play an important role in improving the quality of education offered by urban high schools.

These are extremely positive results, and need to be heard both by the various education stakeholders who can provide support to schools, and to the schools, who more and more and dedicating the resources needed to reach out to the community and invite this type of participation.

The survey, of course, does not address the barriers to such partnerships, such as the fact that many members of these groups do not feel that they are invited in as partners (helping to determine educational outcomes and processes), but rather as donors or laborers working towards the schools’ predetermined ends. Or the fact that some members of these stakeholder groups, businesses in particular, need to see some kind of ROI on their investment (recognition, community goodwill, etc.) in order to justify their participation. I’ve written about the first, and will be addressing the second in the very near future.

But the fact remains: such a resounding call from the community cannot help but strengthen the case and the call for inviting all stakeholders to participate in the education process.


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