County to join Harvard project on improvement of urban schools

October 21, 2003|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Harvard University and Anne Arundel County public schools are embarking on a three-year partnership to examine how a mixture of business and education practices can be used to improve urban schools, university officials planned to announce today.

The Public Education Leadership Project, a joint venture by Harvard's graduate schools of education and business, will offer one-week summer seminars to teams of administrators from nine school districts across the country. University faculty also periodically visit each school system.

Previously, educators have tried to apply business principles directly to a school system's day-to-day operations.

But the efforts have been ineffective because of the complexity of public education, said Stacey Childress, the project's director. "We're creating new knowledge around this topic," she said.

Anne Arundel and other districts - Montgomery County, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, Charleston, S.C., and Harrisburg, Pa. - were selected because they have tried businesslike approaches to solving urban education problems.

Superintendent Eric J. Smith, who will be part of the Anne Arundel team, said he looks forward to exchanging ideas with administrators from other districts and "being able to pick up the phone to talk to business or education professors at Harvard and have some critique of how we're moving forward."

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