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The Education of Richard Riley: A Case Study of Business Involvement in Education

The Education of Richard Riley: A Case Study of Business Involvement in Education

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The Education of Richard Riley: A Case Study of Business Involvement in Education

159 pages
2 heures
Jul 8, 2013


Prior to 1983, South Carolinas public education system was ranked 49th out of the fifty states in terms of standardized testing, school funding, parental involvement and other measured criteria. With several corporations moving their corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities into the state, South Carolinas weak public school system came to the forefront as a major concern in the states efforts to draw in businesses.

In 1983, South Carolina installed a Business Education Partnership program (BEP) to monitor its public school system to improve teacher quality, student testing and school funding. This book chronicles these efforts under the leadership of Richard Riley who was South Carolinas governor at the time.

During his reign from 1983 through 1989, Riley worked with the CEOs of major companies, school superintendents, politicians and the community to promote the BEP program. Rileys vibrant role was crucial in building and sustaining the success of the BEP and in highlighting public interest in school reform. Under Rileys leadership, South Carolinas public school system enjoyed significant improvement that has remained unmatched till this day.

In this well-researched work, the success of the BEP program under Riley is documented as well as the programs eventual downfall after Rileys departure from office.
Jul 8, 2013

À propos de l'auteur

Robert Archer is a graduate of Columbia University with a doctorate in educational administration. His teaching experience encompasses the university and public school levels where he has held positions as university administrator, assistant professor, guidance counselor, and public school teacher. In addition to his extensive career background, Dr. Archer’s passion for the field of education is prevalent in his community involvement with organizations focused on mentoring students regarding their individual goals and direction. In continuation of his strong commitment to academic excellence, Dr. Archer was the recipient of a William Fulbright Scholarship Award for 2012. Dr. Archer is also a founding member of the Silicon Valley United Nations Association of the USA, where a primary focus of his work involves the Global Classroom, an international education program that helps students around the world cultivate global literacy and life skills.

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The Education of Richard Riley - Robert Archer Ed.D.


© 2013, 2014 by Robert Archer. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 07/16/2014

ISBN: 978-1-4817-0418-2 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4817-0417-5 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4817-0416-8 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012924386

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.




Institutionalizing a Reform Mindset

A Case Study



Target 2000



Business Participants

Reasons for Change in Composition

Education Participation

Participation Changes on the Business Education Partnership

Legislative Participation

Civic Participation


Selling and Promoting Reforms

Supporting Implementation of the Reforms

Maintaining Momentum

Business Portion Sustained

Business Portion Hindered

Change in Educational Issues





Notable Progress in Education Reform



By Terry K. Peterson, Senior Fellow, College of Charleston

(2001 to Present)

Counselor to the US Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley


Director of the South Carolina Business-Education Partnership

(1987 to 1993)

Education Director for Governor Richard W. Riley

(1979 to 1987)

In 1983, numerous regional and national studies called for significant education improvements to equip our young people better for the changing times. South Carolina’s public education system was often listed among those at the bottom in the nation. At the same time, corporations were looking to move their headquarters and manufacturing facilities into the state. But corporate leaders wanted better schools for their own children, as well as their employees and their children—potential future employees.

Richard W. Riley, governor of South Carolina at the time, heard these calls for dramatic education improvements and undertook the challenge of large-scale education reform. Governor Riley knew that it would take a package of bold education reforms and improvements to impact significantly and positively more than a thousand public schools and hundreds of thousands of students spread across all of South Carolina. Many of the state’s students lived in the deepest poverty anywhere in the nation.

Given the complexity and enormity of the challenges, Governor Riley also knew that, while it is easy to talk about various education reforms, actually putting them in place and making them work for all types of students and schools would take significant investments of time, energy, and money. In addition, serious commitments by educators and parents, community and business leaders would be necessary for long-term change.

It is difficult to keep a single school on an improvement path for more than 6-7 years. However, it is far, far more challenging to move a whole state’s education system dramatically forward for 6-7 years.

But the aim of the Riley team was even larger. Their goal was to put in place a continuous improvement framework and funding system for positive change that could be updated periodically, so that a reform mindset would be in place across the entire state for 10-20 years—a decade or two! That is almost never considered possible. Yet, that is what happened in South Carolina.

Only in the past few years has South Carolina’s education improvement process and resulting positive outcomes that began in 1983 started to become significantly undone. For almost 20 years, then, a massive state-level engagement process, reform framework and funding system for change had a very positive impact. Most interestingly, for 17 of those 20 years, Governor Riley was not in office. His second term expired in January, 1987, just 2 ½ years into the 6-7 year phased implementation of the comprehensive set of improvements. The Riley team was well aware of this timeline. They knew that, at the outset, they needed to build broad ownership and wide support for the dramatic reforms at the very beginning in order for the sustainability of funding and accountability for improvement to continue well beyond Governor Riley’s term of office.

The unique processes of massive public engagement coupled with bold innovation strategies and incentives for progress included in the South Carolina Education Improvement Act developed and implemented by Governor Riley and his allies, including many state legislators, set a positive course for almost two decades of progress. Establishing the Education Improvement Act Fund with the proceeds of a newly-enacted penny sales tax increase also was a critical essential ingredient of the successful package. Countless evaluation reports and news stories documented South Carolina’s very significant and meaningful education improvements—some of the largest achievement gains and SAT score increases in the nation, increased college and career readiness, positive advancements and reforms among large numbers of teachers and school administrators, to name just a few. Engagement by the Riley team of thousands of parents, educators, and business and community leaders helped build long-term momentum to keep the reforms moving forward.

One key element for improving South Carolina’s public education system and sustaining that improvement for many years after Riley left the governorship included school-business partnerships, both at the local and state levels. At the state level, of foremost importance was the critical role of the business community working side by side with local and state education leaders, as well as a significant number of state legislators. This business and educator collaboration was formally constituted at the state level through the formation of business-education oversight entities. While the name and makeup of this state-level collaboration changed over time, the business-education partnership and its committees were crucial in keeping on track the innovations and incentives for continual advancements.

Equally if not more important, this business-education oversight at the state level was very critical for keeping the penny tax levied to fund all of the reforms in place and to fight off constant attempts to drain off the education reform funds for other purposes. For long-term improvement, some type of independent, powerful body is needed to help keep state leaders’ eyes on the prize. Otherwise, after the excitement of enacting the education reforms has passed or the hard work of implementation has begun, there is a tendency to raid or eliminate the reform funds as new legislative leaders, state department education staff and governors come into office.

In his book, Archer looks at both sides of the coin, dissecting Riley’s successes and his challenges. He identifies and discusses in detail the measures that were sustainable over the long term and those that were not. Archer’s insights were gained through interviews with Governor Riley and numerous other key participants and supporters of Riley’s education reform program.

Indeed, this book is a chronicle of Riley’s efforts in South Carolina’s education reform at its very peak from 1983 through 1989. Interestingly, half of this very high reform period occurred after Riley left office, but the carefully and strategically phased implementation of the major elements of the Education Improvement Act continued and were completed. Indeed, some aspects of the reform package, while diminished, are still present in South Carolina schools today, 30 years after development began on the Education Improvement Act.

Archer follows Riley’s education measures from development through the end of his administration and on until full implementation. He also captures the pulls and tugs to water down and undo some of the reforms. Archer’s work highlights the critical role that Governor Riley’s vibrant leadership played in the success of South Carolina’s education reform program, including his team’s building of strong partnerships between the local governments, business community, teachers, school administrators, school boards and most importantly, parents. These are key components in establishing and sustaining a successful statewide school reform effort.


In the early 1980s as Richard Riley, then governor of South Carolina, started the laying the groundwork for historic reform in his state’s education system, I was working as a communication representative for Western Union. It would still be quite a few years before, as a Ed.D. student in Columbia University’s Teacher College; I would focus on South Carolina’s pioneering efforts as a definitive model for building effective school-business partnerships. Inspired by the extraordinary spirit of genuine bipartisanship that defined the success in South Carolina, as a counselor in Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Academy, I readily took up opportunities to build similar partnerships with Colgate Palmolive, Chase Bank, NYNEX and others.

The historical memory, indeed, matters a great deal now especially when so many participants in contentious debates about accountability and credibility in public education inadvertently or deliberately forget the prima facie evidence of the reform movement’s formative years. Nearly 30 years after the fact, amid today’s emotionally charged political environment where neoconservative activists aim to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education, elected officials from both sides of the aisle in the 1980s saw differently despite initial campaign pledges. President Ronald Reagan, whose party platform had recommended eliminating the cabinet-level education agency, strongly advocated for business-school partnerships. His immediate successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, carried the initiative further. One of my own mentors, Thomas Evans, was chief counsel to the Points of Life Foundation that was part of President Bush’s legacy. Riley also was good friends with the late Terrel Bell, the US Secretary of Education during the Reagan Administration. In 1996, he delivered the eulogy at Bell’s funeral in Salt Lake City.

The night Bill Clinton, fresh from winning the election for his first term as president, nominated Governor Riley to be his U.S. Secretary of Education, I was a student in Evans’ class and the impact was immediately evident that the ideal dissertation topic would address South Carolina’s efforts which started in 1983 and that led to unheard of legislative action—the approval of a penny sales tax increase exclusively dedicated to support a bold set of educational reforms. Refining the topic further, I zeroed in on Riley’s blueprint outlining the essential needs for meaningful business-education partnerships and decided to track its impact from

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