Johns Hopkins Partners With Ed. Industry Association

UPDATED at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 29, with comments from Johns Hopkins.
Johns Hopkins University School of Education and the Education Industry Association, a trade association, are partnering to develop curriculum, research, and business development programs around education entrepreneurship. The goal, for both entities, is to develop the next generation of private-sector education leaders and improve the relationship between public- and private-sector education.

“We have to leverage every sector of the business,” said Dr. Henry Smith, executive director of the office of partnerships for educational transformation at Johns Hopkins. “There’s a $4 billion business here that’s been ignored by the education industry. We are no longer ignoring it.”

As part of the venture, announced last week, Hopkins will establish a new Doctor of Education program, and an education business incubator, and will provide independent research for education companies. EIA, along with its members, will help develop curriculum, commission research, and offer access to top executives and officials working in private and public K-12 education.

“It’s a chance for future students to learn at the elbows of seasoned entrepreneurs who have the battle scars of public-private partnerships,” said Steve Pines, the executive director of EIA, in a phone interview Tuesday. EIA, based in Vienna, Va., represents more than 300 organizations, including education management organizations, publishers, consultants, and online education companies.

Schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Arizona State University offer programs that merge business and education. But Pines said it is the first partnership of this size between a university and a trade association. Financial terms and a budget for the partnership have not been disclosed.

Students can already enroll for the “revamped” three-year, part-time E.d.D. program at Johns Hopkins, beginning this fall. New courses about the education industry will be offered and existing curriculum in history, policy, and finance courses will be given an entrepreneurship and business focus, Smith said.

The partnership is also taking aim at a muddied area of education: independent research into for-profit education initiatives. Johns Hopkins, a research university, will provide research (independently, Pines and Smith stressed) to EIA members looking for performance data or insight on their products and services.

The lack of reliable data is often cited as a barrier between public education and for-profit companies that claim to outperform public schools. Smith said in most cases, the relationship with education businesses will help frame the right questions for Johns Hopkins researchers, who will initiate their own studies.

But the companies could also commission the research as a form of “offense and defense,” Pines said— chance to bolster their accountability or prove their detractors wrong.

“Many school districts currently do not yet make procurement decisions based on what works,” Pines said.

Long-term plans for the partnership include an incubator program for startups and early-stage education businesses and joint projects between EIA and the school.

The partnership’s plan to “integrate for-profit programs, products and concepts more deeply into the education sector” could raise eyebrows of educators skeptical of truly independent research in education, or that such integration can be done with students’ best interest in mind. But Pines insists the key to assuaging those fears is informing the private sector and the public with better data.

The announcement came during a busy week for public-private education partnerships. To recap:

    • In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced a program to allow high school students to earn college credits, gain working experience in college and be placed into jobs with local businesses. The business community, the University of Central Missouri and state agencies, including the Lee’s Summit School District, are all partnering for the initiative. Those entities will also create an 100-acre “Innovation Campus” of classrooms and office buildings.

The Associated Press reports:

Businesses locating at the so-called Innovation Campus will employ students as apprentices and help pick up the cost for their education— by paying them or contributing money for their tuition. When the students finish a bachelor’s degree, ideally two to three years after high school graduation, the businesses will commit to hiring many of them.

  • Also this week, Rocketship Education, a nonprofit charter school network, and Curriculum Associates LLC, an educational publisher, announced the Ferguson Educational Leadership Fellowship. The new fellowship puts young educators on a three-year rotation as employees of each organization, as well as an urban school district in Boston or San Francisco. At each organization, fellows are paid $85,000 to work in curriculum development or accountability management.
  • And on Tuesday, IBM and the City of Chicago announced plans to open five new grades 9-14 public schools this fall. The schools will offer students a high school diploma and associate degree in computer science. They will be modeled after Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, another school developed along with IBM.

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