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A Key Partnership

The positive link between school and work, long intuited, now is backed by evidence. A new Census Bureau study shows that companies heavily involved with local high schools have a much lower turnover rate among young employees.

That kind of involvement - ranging from tutoring to helping design curriculum - has long been urged. Companies concerned about the adequacy of their future work force have plunged in, creating relationships that can guide promising young people after graduation.

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The Census study, conducted by the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania, surveyed some 5,400 businesses and found that 25 percent were "strongly involved" with local schools.

The idea of strong business involvement in the academic world sometimes sets off alarms. Are courses of study being skewed by economic motives? Are kids being deprived of the exhilaration of learning for its own sake?

Those questions are valid, but they really are less to the point for millions of high school grads who need, above all, an education that helps them move quickly toward economic self-sufficiency. That need requires curricula geared to an evolving job market. The merging of this demand with industry's urgent need for well-prepared workers creates benefits all around - and to society at large.

When they've had a part in what students have been taught, employers will give added weight to job-seekers' high school transcripts. Teenagers accordingly, should give more thought to the importance of building a solid high-school record.

The world of scholarship and liberal learning must remain available. But for young people focused on getting a job with a future, an up-to-date vocational thrust may provide lifetime rewards. We applaud the enlightened involvement of American business.

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