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This paper examined the role of partnership relationships as they related to school districts and universities. It highlighted programs and delivery modes that could be used to improve communication with the expectation of mutual benefits from achieving the goal of improved teaching and learning. The paper demonstrated the cost savings opportunities and improved communication through the use of technology. The review of literature focused both on the research and the current practical applications in use today between universities and school districts. Several programs and technologies were presented to show the impact that wireless communication can have on enhancing the partnership relationship. The concept of partnership education using teams was presented as well as how partnerships can be either formal with the use of Memoranda of Agreement, or informal coaching and mentoring depending on the needs and resources of the organizations involved.

About the Author

Dan Cunniff is an Associate Professor at National University, La Jolla, California and Coordinator for the online Educational Administration courses at the headquarters of National University.


As schools and school districts find their funds being cut or eliminated, they are turning to various organizations for assistance to help in the teaching/learning process. One such organization is the university. Quite often these schools or districts not only lack the funds, but also lack the technical and resource capacities to implement the kinds of educational practices outlined in their mission statements. The No Child Left Behind Act has exacerbated this crisis and many schools are now embracing the help of universities in their decision-making. Additionally, colleges of education work to establish partnerships with PreK-12 school systems in order to fulfill their mission and contribute to school reforms that improve the lives of teachers and students alike.

PreK-12 school partnerships can be either formal or informal. Relationships can have memoranda of agreements signed off by the local school board to one of informal individual and group meetings to address local concerns. As a result, school districts seek partnerships with key stakeholders such as universities. This paper describes several ways this process can be undertaken. Many of these partnerships are an outgrowth of teacher education programs. Often, student teachers identify areas where their university can make a contribution to school site councils and leadership teams in coaching team and administrative leaders, as well as addressing curricular and other educational issues.

Review of the literature

Developing partnerships involves the promotion of cooperation. The organization’s life depends on member cooperation (Simon, 1976). The university, in coming into a school district, assumes the responsibility of creating cooperation among its members. Research has shown that reducing people’s focus on their own self-interest is critical to developing a positive team (Frank, Gilovich, and Regan, 1993). The team’s make up is also critical. Diversely demographic teams are less likely to develop cooperative norms than are homogeneous groups (Chatman and Flynn, 2001). The university participants must devise ways to instill cooperative norms in groups, particularly when groups are made up of diverse members. By focusing on a common issue or problems, the organizational leaders can instill a commonality of purpose among members (Chatman et al., 1998). Cooperation can also be enhanced by teaching people values, facts, and skills that promote cooperation, such as the importance of action research and applying that research in the school or district (Cialdini, 2001).

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Source:  OpenStax, Educational leadership and administration: teaching and program development, volume 23, 2011. OpenStax CNX. Sep 08, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11358/1.4
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