Schools reflect the society in which they exist. This is true for neighborhood schools and for the entire education system of the United States. Indeed, education can be thought of as a subsystem of a socialpolitical-economic system. In Blueprints we turn that around and look at aspects of the larger system as components of the education system. These four chapters examine the roles of families and communities, business and industry, higher education, and teacher education in relation to K-12 science and mathematics education.

While the main role of families, communities, businesses, and universities may be to “support” the K-12 education enterprise, it is certainly not their only one. These entities often play a major part in actually shaping the education enterprise. They do so by pressing the schools to establish policies they favor and discontinue ones they dislike, and by taking a hand in setting financial and other constraints for the schools to observe. What complicates matters is that in the United States the “they” of parents, communities, etc., is extremely diverse and rarely of a single mind. Moreover, control over the policies, finances, and operation of “the education enterprise” they wish to support or shape is widely and confusingly dispersed. Understanding education as a system would seem to require exploring its interactions with the social system in which it is embedded.

The first two chapters of this section might well have been one. On the face of it, higher education subsumes teacher education. But not all teacher education-in preparation or ongoing staff development-is sponsored by higher education or conducted by professors. Project 2061 commissioned separate reports in order to be sure to highlight the paramount  importance of teacher education for reform. Also, the project wanted to be sure that sufficient attention was paid to all of the functions of colleges and universities that have an impact on K-12 education. Still, the reader may want to reassemble these chapters conceptually.

As influences on the policies and practices of individual school systems, teacher education and higher education can be as important as family, community, and business. However,  while university-school partnerships of one kind or another are not unknown, they are neither numerous nor enduring. More commonly, the influence of higher education on K-12  schools is indirect. For example, the admissions standards of a college apply to the graduates of all high schools, not just to the schools in its immediate vicinity, and a school district can hire any teachers who meet state licensing requirements, no matter where they trained. This indirect influence can be strong (school districts everywhere pay attention to Ivy  League admissions standards) as well as dynamic (there is a strong relationship between state universities that produce large numbers of teachers and the school districts around them). Finally, the important role of community colleges and historically Black universities should be carefully studied, not only as models of how to meet the needs of a changing undergraduate population, but as partners in meeting our goal of a more diverse science and mathematics teaching force.