Putting a new twist on an emergent Carter campaign theme, Education Secretary Shirley M. Hufstedler said yesterday that public education in partnership with business can help restore American economic productivity.
In a speech to the National Alliance of Business, Hufstedler called on business people to collaborate with educators at the local level for both altruistic and self-interested reasons.
"Neither schools nor corporations can continue the business-as-usual pattern in which the private sector lives exclusively in its own world and educators live in theirs. We need each other, and we can help each other," she said.
With the Republicans committed to abolishing President Carter's baby, the Department of Education, Hufstedler has an especially keen interest in a Democratic victory in November and in cultivating business support for that effort.
She told the NAB, an association of business people who try to link private-sector jobs and the jobless, that business people and educators have to overcome their suspicion of each other, partially "a residue of the Vietnam years," and to recognize their common interests.
Business should assume the leadership on public education's behalf because a better educated work force is not only more productive, but is also "going to make more money and spend more money in the market-place," she said.
Along these lines, she also said that business should be heading the fight for bilingual education.
"Your companies are going to have to learn to communicate in Spanish to sell your products. And that, of course, will involve having many people in your employ who are bilingual," she said.
She encouraged business people to press for passage of the Carter administration's Youth Act of 1980, which would require every public school to have the advice and partnership of private business.
"The basic premise is that collaboration with the private sector will enable the schools to do a better job of imparting the skills that local employers need," she said.