Investing in schools – Money, volunteers, advice offered

Businesses in southern California are trying to help schools with donations, volunteers and advice, the Los Angeles Times reported June 21.

Employers are worried about the quality of the education their future workers are receiving. Dropout rates are high in poor districts, and only 12 percent of the region’s minority students take the advanced courses required to qualify them for good jobs in the “new economy.”

Businesspeople are quick to acknowledge that they know little about teaching or curricula. They are willing to help in a number of other ways, however.

The Los Angeles United School District has partnerships and adopt-a-school programs with more than 500 businesses and institutions. Edison International and the Los Angeles Times are among the companies that send employees to help students with reading skills.

In Orange County, Irvine Co. and a local business foundation pledged $3.9 million to help local schools retain music, art and science teachers.

Parochial schools are getting in on the act. The Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese has development councils at 12 of its inner-city schools, and local businesspeople serve on the boards of several dozen more.

Many organizations, such as the Pep Boys auto parts chain and Hughes Space & Electronics, get involved with high school students by offering them summer jobs. When it comes to elementary schools, though, businesses find it most effective simply to set a positive example and to raise money.

For full text, go to the Los Angeles Times.

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