Public Education Bad for Business (and Unions)

Workforce needs polish, U.S. businesses declare,” by Leon Lazaroff, Chicago Tribune, 10 April 2005, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=2027&ncid=2027&e=4&u=/chitribts/20050410/ts_chicagotrib/workforceneedspolishusbusinessesdeclare (from Democratic Underground).

Businesses and unions are natural adversaries. So it takes something big, like the lousy state of American secondary schools, to make them come together

As lawmakers and educators struggle to improve high schools in the U.S., businesses and labor unions say they are alarmed that even job seekers with a diploma can’t function in the workplace.

It’s a problem, they say, that threatens to cripple American productivity at home and competition abroad.

While the AFL-CIO and National Association of Manufacturers have clashed over wage issues and foreign trade, Paul Cole, secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO says the two groups agree that a more efficient and higher-skilled workforce can ensure that well-paying jobs are not exported.

What is the problem?

Students get out of secondary school unable to work

Discouraged by the work habits of many new employees, a handful of states, led by New York, are working to create a nationally recognized “work readiness” credential. Proponents say the credential would certify that a prospective employee understands the importance of “soft skills” such as punctuality, a willingness to accept supervision and an ability to work in a group.

You’d think people would know to call in sick when they’re not coming to work, but that’s not always the case,” said Michael Kauffman, an executive at Anoplate Corp., a 175-person metal manufacturer in Syracuse. “We’re having many more problems than in the past getting people who understand what it means to work in an office or a factory.”

Why do we need a work readiness credential? Because secondary school diplomas have been deflated to worthlessness.

It is a depressing article. And yet another example of how our 19th century socialist education system has failed.

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