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Maeroff Speaks About The Learning Connection

"For me, The Learning Connection is revisiting the topic of collaborative projects between schools and colleges in a book I wrote called, School in College, published in 1982," said Gene I. Maeroff, Director of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College.

Now, eighteen years later, Maeroff, Patrick M. Callan, President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and Michael D. Usdan, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, have co-edited The Learning Connection: New Partnerships Between Schools and Colleges (published by Teachers College Press), to study partnerships that are showing promise today.

In an interview with Maeroff in his Teachers College office, he spoke of the "spotty history" of cooperation during the nearly two decades that have past. "What has changed over the eighteen years is that there are many, many more projects than there were at the beginning of the period. What has changed far less is the impetus and formal support for doing this."

Maeroff added, "It's very timely to look at new connections because they are the beginnings of a new kind of coherency. But a great many of those changes depend on being able to cross the lines between schools and colleges and on the assumption that the lines are going to be crossed."

The book represents one of the "first mappings of the K-16 policy arena in accessible terms," according to the editors. The volume uses the case study approach and emphasizes "established programs throughout the country that have a direct impact on schools and student learning." The studies focus on the efforts of schools and colleges in five areas: standards, equity, teachers, governance, and community-building. "By choosing these five areas what we tried to say is there has to be more coherence and cohesiveness to these collaborations," Maeroff said.

The dozen case studies in The Learning Connection were written by a wide group of journalists working with the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media. All the case studies were supported through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Maeroff believes that collaborations will continue to grow and perhaps even thrive. "I think it's become more and more clear that it has a great deal to do with institutions of higher education. They produce the teachers, they produce these people who are working in the classrooms, and they better take interest in it."

What will make it happen?

"Ultimately," Maeroff says, "it is policymakers at the state level who are saying they want it to happen."

A national conference in Kansas City at the end of June grew out of the case studies in The Learning Connection. The Kauffman Foundation provided funding for the conference and brought together a dozen state-based teams to talk about some of these issues and what can happen legislatively to make collaboration more likely.

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