Monday, February 6, 2012

Preparing School Kids for Corporate Life

When CEO “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap fired 11,000 Scott Paper employees, sold the company to its chief rival and walked away with 100 million dollars, a lot of people failed to realize that  “Chainsaw” had no obligations other than to enrich the stockholders. They, in turn, would and take care of him. One newly fired thirty six year veteran of Scott whined on national television that Dunlap, “... took my life and put it into his pocket ...”. More effective public schooling would have brought this churlish fellow to realize that Dunlap was simply exercising corporate leadership.

It is a big, big job to school kids in a manner that allows them to properly appreciate “Chainsaw Al” and the modern corporate values he represents. But it is not impossible; so we need to get going.

We could, for example, eliminate sharing in grade school, instead substituting activities which inculcate Mr. Dunlap’s guiding principle: “The meek shall not inherit the earth; and, for sure, they won’t get the mineral rights!” But, to prepare kids for “Chainsaw’s” world, we have to start early. Kindergarten and first grade teachers must stop teaching kids to share crayons, for instance, and encourage a struggle for them instead. The victors should then be be instructed to sell crayons to the losers — provided, of course, they can pay.

We also must end all this folderol about “inclusion.” Kids in inclusive classrooms sometimes start to enjoy helping others; and we all know what can happen to profits when you let that camel get its nose under the tent.

To enhance profits and boost stock prices, corporate chieftains routinely introduce employees to  “involuntary separation from payroll” — often at an age when they can’t buy another job. Are public schools adequately preparing kids  for this? No, they are not. Otherwise there wouldn't be so much fussing when these layoffs happen. So let youngsters progress to12th grade; then, just when they are ready to graduate, "right size” the school by imposing “involuntary severance” on a random selection of seniors. This will prepare them for late career layoffs.

Corporations also dip into their employee’s pension funds. Typically, employees react angrily. What can public schools do to help corporate managers with this problem? Persuade students to start school-based college savings accounts. Then let's spend their money. Do this two or three times and you won’t have all this whining and complaining every time pension funds have to be sacrificed.

Corporate execs find it increasingly profitable to ship American jobs abroad. Unfortunately,  American workers stubbornly resist this. What can be done? Since its not practical to export the kids to, say, India, let's fire their teachers and import new ones from emerging nations. We'll save money and kids who see their teachers displaced by this foreign competition will come to understand the necessity when it was their turn.

In fairness, public schooling already meets many of the  fundamental needs of corporate America. After a few years in elementary school, for instance, kids learn they have to go along to get along. That’s solid preparation for corporate life. Twelve years of public schooling also teaches kids to live with mindless rules, red tape and managerial double talk. This is basic.

Come to think of it, public schooling might be “ahead of the curve” in meeting some corporate needs. For instance, business has only recently gotten into “densifying” the work environment — moving employees out of  offices into a maze of relentlessly public cubicles. Public schools have been densified for years. Even teachers lack cubicles. So school kids have long been prepared for densification.

Similarly, corporate bosses have only recently begun lurching from one management reform fad to another., Reform manias have erupted regularly in public schooling for more than a century. By the time a youngster reaches twelfth grade, he or she has already lived through two or three improvement crazes. That’s more than enough to prepare them for corporate America.

To examine these and similar issues further, see

-- GKC