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Growing Relationships Between Schools and Businesses

How have partnerships between school and businesses changed over the past decades?

Currently school-business partnerships involve as little as a business donating some supplies, to supplying television sets, to youth apprenticeships, to developing and building a Space Education Center, complete with surround sound and living quarters (build in Pleasant Grove, Utah).

The Walt Disney Co. built the Celebration Teaching Academy. The purpose was to provide training to Osceola County school teachers, and long-distance training to teachers around the country. Today the facility stands empty and unused. The plan faltered after Stetson University and Disney began to disagree over the function and priorities of the training facility.

One of the most famous, or infamous, relationship is that between Channel 1 and schools. In this agreement, Channel 1 lends schools a satellite dish, VCRs, and TV sets, Channel 1 requires that students spend class time watching the program. The contact agrees to air news broadcasts developed for teens. Most schools must air Channel 1 on 90 percent of school days and in 80 percent of the classrooms. In addition to news, commercials are part of the daily program.

In 1997 Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting analyzed Channel 1's programming. It found that approximately 20 percent of Channel 1's 12 minute programs are spent on coverage of "recent political, economic, social and cultural stories." The remainder is made up of sports, celebrity profiles, other soft news, and product promotions.

This example highlights the primary concern over school-business relationships. Is the partnership benefiting both the school and the business? Is it a lopsided relationship, only benefiting one party. Do gifts come with unrealistic expectations? What modifications need to be made to these programs?

For many educational institutions, school-business partnerships are a necessity, not an option. Businesses can provide materials and other financial support that can't be found in other funding sources.

The implications for libraries is extensive. Businesses are funding/donating books, computers, software, training, audio/visual equipment, furniture, and employee time to volunteer. It is necessary for each library administrator to evaluate what type of relationship will be sought out and/or agreed to.

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