Monday, February 6, 2012


Educators are repeatedly urged to prepare students for the world of work. I too think this is imperative. Far too many kids emerge from school with unrealistic expectations. Let's get these kids ready to face reality. For instance, 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 ton of people believed “Chainsaw” was behaving despicably. They thought he had obligations beyond enriching the stockholders and 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 real world of work. That would have brought them to realize that Chainsaw was simply exercising competent corporate leadership.

It is very important that school kids learn to admire leaders like “Chainsaw Al” and the actual world of work that he represents. We must create school policies that 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, we must immediately eliminate the socialistic practice of encouraging grade school kids to share. Kindergarten and first grade teachers, for instance, must stop urging kids to share crayons. Let them compete for them. Then conduct mandatory coloring classes in which the victors are encouraged to sell crayons to those that haven't got the needed colors — provided they can somehow pay for them. If not, tough.

We also must end all this communistic folderol about “inclusion.” Students in inclusive classrooms can actually begin helping and caring for their less fortunate classmates. We all know what would happen in the business world if a helping camel got its nose under the tent. End inclusion now!

To enhance profits and boost stock prices, corporate leaders also order “involuntary separations from payroll” — often right before employees are eligible for pensions. This clearly aids corporate well-being. Are public schools adequately preparing kids for this corporate necessity? No, they are not. Otherwise there wouldn't be such whining about right sizing. What's needed is corrective action. We could, for instance, allow them to progress to, say,12th grade. Then, when they are nearing graduation, "right size” the school by imposing “involuntary severance” on a random selection of seniors. This will exemplify corporate reality and better prepare youngsters for the real world of work. 

Well-run corporations can sometimes legally wet their beak in employee pension funds. Employees react negatively to this if they lack proper preparation for the real world of work. What can schools do to help alleviate that? They could encourage students to start school-based savings accounts. Then have central administration randomly confiscate the kid's money. Do this two or three times and you won’t have all this kvetching every time a pension fund is lightened to fortify the corporate bottom line.

Here's another world of work problem the schools must help solve. 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.  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 due to the supply of English speakers. 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 in humans.

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