Friday, May 4, 2007

Grade School Goes Corporate

There's no denying that it's hard to raise money these days, especially for educational purposes. Everyday I hear about the University of Florida's fund-raising efforts all the time, and each day I am surprised about the generous alumni that donate millions of dollars for various reasons.

But as I was reading an article in U.S. News & World Report entitled "Grade School Goes Corporate," I realized that there are other levels of education seeking funding than just colleges and universities. Now I realize that budgets are tight, especially when it comes to education, but after reading this article, I have to give credit to the principal at Brazier Elementary School in Trinity Gardens, Alabama. At first the school was an under-performing center of learning where, ironically, no one was learning according to state test scores. But after Merrier Jackson took over as principle, she began to rally community support for the school through some of the local businesses and large corporations in the area.

Now that's an idea. Plus, it deals directly with community capital and social structure. Deep down, people want to help their communities but they often find it difficult to do so. Even worse, people want local businesses to take ownership of their communities that give them business, but rarely does that happen. Well, Jackson made it happen. As a former business woman, she convinced the CEO of Budweiser Busch Distributing Co. to take a stake in the school and provide funding, so long as the school's scores went up. Well, guess what... the scores went up and now the school has more money to operate off of.

I think this is a great idea that could work in a state like Florida where funding for education is dramatically decreasing because of the state-wide FCAT tests. Schools should find companies like Jackson did to sponsor them if they can get the test scores up. Hell, UF and other colleges do it, so why can't the public elementary schools do the same?

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