Sustaining Change

Sustaining Change through Business and Civic Leadership: Innovative Partnerships

A well-educated and well-trained workforce is a pivotal factor in driving and sustaining a community’s growth and prosperity. Developing a well-educated and well-prepared workforce depends, in part, on having high schools that are redesigned through career-themed programs and transformed teaching and learning.

Success in transforming and sustaining new forms of teaching and learning and in redesigning schools likewise depends on strong community leadership and ongoing support. Innovative business-community-education partnerships connect local high schools with colleges and universities, community organizations, and employers, and provide real-world learning opportunities that are an essential component of the curricula and programs of study. These partnerships help sustain reforms during periodic storms that unhinge most education reform initiatives. Only through sustained effort can these reforms succeed in institutionalizing transformative approaches to teaching and learning and school redesign, and ultimately changing deeply held beliefs and school cultures.

Employers in the community (private businesses, public institutions, and nonprofit organizations) have an important role to play:

  • Providing a “high altitude” perspective regarding the scope and direction of reform efforts, particularly in making sure that they accurately reflect the knowledge and skills that students need to acquire
  • Working directly with career- and interest-based programs in an advisory capacity, providing input to the curriculum and the program so that current and emerging industry specific issues and trends are addressed
  • Providing the essential real-world connections and learning opportunities that bring the curriculum to life by providing externship experiences to teachers, serving as guest speakers and advisors on student projects in the classroom, and offering mentoring, jobshadowing, and internship opportunities to students

Ford PAS Next Generation Learning Communities have access to tools that support the development of effective employer-community-education partnerships, including guidelines and evaluation criteria to ensure that communities are addressing all the components necessary for successful change.

The same set of skills essential to developing a culture of collaboration within schools can also enable teams of educators—at the district and school level—to work effectively with employers and community leaders to build and sustain the partnerships needed to achieve the desired results for students. Thus, the strategies and tools that Ford PAS has created in order to build cultures of collaboration among educators are also being introduced to Next Generation Learning Communities.