Corporations write curricula, train principals

Corporations aren’t writing many no-strings checks to schools. They’re helping to write curricula, design classes and train principals, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

In St. Paul and Mahtomedi, 3M has already helped schools develop science curricula and teach lessons. Cargill executives coach 11 Minneapolis charter school principals on management and business. And this school year St. Louis Park High School will ask corporations for help in designing electives.

“My concern is that many partnerships benefit the company more than the school and students,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a Boston advocacy nonprofit.

A look at such collaborations around the country finds IBM helping to open an inner-city public high school in September. The school will prepare graduates for entry-level technology jobs, possibly at IBM.

In Nashville, Tenn., a high school joined with a local credit union to open a student-run branch in the cafeteria, open during lunch periods to students and staff.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has asked businesses to “adopt” schools, giving both expertise and dollars.

In Minneapolis, Cargill, General Mills and Medtronic helped set up a $2.8 million, three-year leadership development program for principals. Corporate human resources executives will coach Minneapolis principals this year on management and other issues.

. . . 3M volunteers advised Mahtomedi Public Schools on an engineering curriculum this year, but the 3M Foundation’s Barbara Kaufman said the district led the curriculum conversations.

“Most of these teachers have never been in the industry … we provide the relevancy,” she said.

Education’s goal is “to create a literate population who can think critically,” not to train a workforce,  said Linn, of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

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  1. The flipside is that corporations have a much better understanding of what “core knowledge” is required to get a decent job than today’s “educators” do.

    I would rather have IBM helping to write math curricula than whoever created Everyday Math.

  2. Lets see, who should write curriculum? Textbook companies that are interested in pushing their products? Government officials that are in the pockets of various political groups and businesses? PhD’s that are more interested in being published than in student learning? Teachers whose educations are largely suspect and who might even know little more than their students?

    As long as these companies are training them to be employees and not consumers, I’m all for it. Nothing compromises critical thinking as much as poverty.

  3. Interestingly, in a conversation with a Dean at a local college who had instituted a “board of advisers” of local business people to help her design a Management of Technology degree program, the most important skill the business leaders were looking for was Critical Thinking. So, business leaders and Ms Linn agree on the goal, “to create a literate population who can think critically”.

    Perhaps her antipathy to business is one of the problems. Collaboration is better than adversarial posturing, and certainly provides a better model for our children in working together to achieve (apparently) common goals.