Monday, February 6, 2012


Educators are repeatedly urged to prepare students for the world of work. I think this is imperative. Presently far too many emerge from school with no real appreciation of that world. For instance, when CEO “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap boldly fired 11,000 Scott Paper employees, sold the company to its chief rival and walked away with 100 million dollars, a ton of people mistakenly believed “Chainsaw” was despicable. They thought he had obligations beyond enriching the stockholders and, of course, himself. One newly fired thirty six year veteran of Scott even whined on national television that Dunlap, “... took my life and put it into his pocket ...”. That's self-pitying nonsense. Realistic public schooling would have prepared whiners such as him for the actual world of work. And that would have brought them to realize that Chainsaw was simply exercising decisive "corporate leadership."

It is very important that school kids learn to admire leaders like “Chainsaw Al” and the world of work he represents. We must create school policies that more thoroughly inculcate Mr. Dunlap’s guiding principle: “The meek shall NOT inherit the earth; and, for sure, they won’t get the mineral rights!” In that spirit we should, for instance, immediately eliminate the socialistic practice of encouraging kids to share in grade school. Kindergarten and first grade teachers, for instance, must stop urging kids to share crayons and require struggle for them instead. Having established that, mandatory coloring assignments should be made and the victors encouraged to sell crayons to those that haven't got them — provided, of course, they can pay. If not, they flunk.

We also must end all this folderol about “inclusion.” Kids in inclusive classrooms sometimes start to help and care for others; and we all know what can happen to a business when that camel get its nose under the tent. End inclusion now!

To enhance profits and boost stock prices, corporate leaders also routinely order “involuntary separation from payroll” — ideally right before employees are eligible for their pensions. This adds appreciably to corporate well-being. Are public schools adequately preparing kids for this corporate reality? No, they most emphatically are not. Otherwise there wouldn't be so much whining about corporate layoffs. Let's really get these kids ready to face the world of work. Let them 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. Making sure. of course, their accumulated credits are non-transferrable. This will far better prepare future employees for the real world of work. 

Well-run corporations also often wet their beak in their employee’s pension funds. Lacking proper school preparation, employees react negatively. So what can schools do to help alleviate that negativity? Encourage students to start school-based savings accounts that also are available to school officials. Then, from time to time, randomly confiscate some kid's money and spent it on school renovations and, of course, luxury goods for school board members. Do this two or three times and you won’t have all this whining and kvetching every time pension funds have to be lightened to fortify the corporate bottom line.

Here's another world of work problem the schools must help end. Corporate execs find it increasingly desirable to ship American jobs abroad. But American workers whine about that. Sometimes they even vote for political candidates who pretend they're going to do something about it. What can be done to get them to be more accepting? The best practice probably would be to export the kids to, say, India, and school them there. That would surely be cheaper, But that's just not practical. So the next best thing is to fire their American teachers and import new ones from one of the emerging nations. India comes immediately to mind. We would save a ton of money and kids who see their teachers displaced by this competition will come to understand the necessity of this sort of free trade when it comes their turn to see their job shipped overseas.

In fairness, public schooling already does already meet some 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 really 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 preparation for the world of work and must continue.

In fact, public schooling has been “ahead of the curve” in at least one aspect of world of work preparation. Business only belatedly “densified” their world — that is moving employees out of  offices into a warren of public cubicles. Public schools have been even more densified since their inception. The kids have always been on top of one another and the teachers have never had any privacy. So school kids are well prepared for corporate densification. Yes, I know, Covid temporarily messed this up. But even here schools took the lead in working remotely so kids are also prepared for that world of work.

Here's another area where schools are actually ahead of the curve. Corporate bosses have only recently begun to enthusiastically lurch from one management reform fad to another. Happily, 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 survived two or three "improvement" crazes. That’s more than enough to prepare them for corporate America.

Despite these strengths, though, preparation for the world of work requires much school improvement. Here we've made a few suggestions as a starter. But there are lots and lots of other opportunities for our schools to more throughly prepare students for the world of work. Now let's get busy!

To examine these and similar issues further, see

-- GKC