Students in the Classroom

What is the Key to Making Public-Private Partnerships Work in K-12 Systems?

Understanding educators' 'pain points', a recent interview with Education Week

June 12, 2014

Original article in Education Week by Kevin Bushweller

How does the faculty vote affect the current status of the company and its plans for the future?

This development doesn't have a direct impact on the current operations or the future growth of the company. We are very proud of our relationship with Middlebury and always strive to be good stewards of the Middlebury brand and language pedagogy. At the same time, we wouldn't have enjoyed our strong growth without K12 and its expertise in digital learning. There will be bumps in the road since this partnership is among the first of its kind, but we are fortunate to have the support and wisdom of both partners. In the end, the progress we have made in increasing access to quality world-language learning—especially to students who have no other options—can be a source of pride for both Middlebury and K12.

What is the key to making public-private partnerships work in the K-12 system?

The biggest thing you need to do as a company is understand schools' pain points. Something I saw when I was the governor of Massachusetts while trying to do education policy is that there's a certain arrogance among non-educators that we all think we went to school, and we send our children to school, so that we completely understand the challenges, opportunities, and issues facing teachers and educators. So the most important thing is to assemble a leadership team that is committed to supporting the unique challenges that educators, and particularly teachers, face. You can build a gorgeous product, it can be research-proven to be effective, but if it is not easy for teachers to use in the classroom, if it doesn't fit the kind of work that they are doing, it is all for naught.

What lessons did you learn as governor of Massachusetts about how the private sector can help government solve problems?

The private sector in Massachusetts, through some organized groups, helped to ensure that the [education] policies that were put in place were bipartisan and embraced by consecutive governors. So in many ways, the business community in a particular state can help ensure the long-term implementation of a set of reforms. I also held roundtables and meetings with teachers to hear their reservations and fears. The business community played a critical role, and still does, in saying what the overarching goals and policies are that have to be achieved to make the Massachusetts education system the best in the country, and hopefully, eventually, one of the best in world.

To read the full article, visit Education Week.

Jane Swift
In addition to leading our company, Jane is the mother of three teenage girls, a Williams College lecturer and a perennial contender to win the company’s March Madness pool. Jane was MA’s first woman Governor and first one in the U.S. to give birth (to twins) while in office. Jane made education her priority during her decade-plus public service career and helped MA become the nation’s top education state.
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