Factory Schools

Developing ‘Human Capital’

“Manufacturers face the additional challenge of poor skill levels among current employees,” added Kleinert, noting that 46 percent reported inadequate problem solving skills among employees and more than a third cited insufficient reading, writing and communications skills in the workplace.

It looks as if the factory schools haven’t been working very well. This is a recurring problem in public schools: Should they be teaching children basic functional skills, test-taking skills, creative skills, or socialization skills? One might expect that basic functional skills would be first priority, but the National Association of Manufacturers report suggests otherwise.

Republicans seem to think that test-taking skills should have priority, but most factory line managers don’t rely on multiple-choice tests to decide who can meet production quotas and quality standards. Even screening tests for white-collar jobs such as editing don’t have the silly formats used by secondary school standardized tests, and colleges routinely minimize the importance of test scores as indicators of future academic performance.

No one in management or postsecondary education would advocate teaching more creative skills, even though this might be valuable. The outcome is too unpredictable, and teaching someone how to be unproductive kind of goes against the grain of the American wooden mind.

Since homeschoolers as a group tend to have the first three types of skills more abundantly than public school students, public schooling guard dogs usually bark about the need for intensive socialization skills. Public school students undeniably socialize more than anyone else in society, and they like it that way. Plenty of adults spend more than $6,000 per year to belong to a country club that they see only on weekends, so the average school district in America gets a bargain by spending that much to enhance each student’s socialization skills five days a week. If they could only refine their system to make it as efficiently conspiratorial as college fraternities are, they would have parents begging to pay even more. Unfortunately, this factor is often overlooked when considering public school budgets, especially in the face of the schools’ so-called “educational mission.” Maybe someday public schools will openly dispense with claims to “educate” students and simply concentrate on socializing them.

And what about the beleaguered manufacturers, left with only well-socialized imbeciles for workers? Well, these are practical people. I’m sure they can come up with an efficient remedial education system that can teach workers in a few months what they missed out on during 12 years of “appropriate” socialization.

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