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History of School Business Partnerships

The official connections between schools and business have worried some educators and parents.

Reported school-business partnerships number over 150,000 in the US. Much of te credit for this relationship can be given to A Nation at Risk, published in 1983. Education reformers suggested that educational improvement is everyone's business. That for businesses to have the educated workforce they need, they had to become involved with schools.

Even though we think of school-business partnerships as a recent trend, the concept was in place as early as the 1650s. Business people were extraordinarily active in promoting public eduction in the 17th century. Continuing through the 1920s, business leaders helped restructure public schools, build parks, playgrounds, public libraries, and foster the growth of character building activities.

During the Depression, many firms were forced to abandon their social commitments, and these commitments were taken over by the federal and state governments. The Cold War years brought back some corporate social involvement. This opened the way for companies to form grant-making foundations. Business involvement in education tended to be reactive rather than proactive. Many of these grant opportunities were focused at higher education rather than K-12 education.

In the 1980s, American businesses began to realize competition from abroad. This competition highlighted the failures which seemed to have their roots in the educational system. In response to this need, corporate America began rediscovering the need to be involved in education.

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