Our nation’s fate hangs in the balance—and once again the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of our union-stifled public schools. Reader: I give you the skills gap. Perhaps the most fiercely urgent chasm we’ve encountered to date, the skills gap refers to the vast unfilled space between current and future job openings and the skills of the people looking for jobs.
Or that’s what we’re supposed to think it means. The real skills gap is between what workers have—a fierce desire not to live in their cars—and what their employers want—to pay them as little as possible. Which brings us to today’s fiercely urgent question: if the skills gap demands that we dismantle our public schools pronto, what kind of schools are best suited to producing the cheap, compliant workers that tomorrow’s employers so urgently need today? The answer: excellent schools.
Building Excellent Schoolsw
Unlike our failing public schools, the excellent schools of tomorrow (by which I mean today) must equip students with the skills that will enable them to thrive in the 21st century workplace. Skills like critical thinking tucking in their uniform shirts and problem solving, conforming to a great many arbitrary rules. But who is capable of building these excellent schools? Reader: I give you Building Excellent Schools, Inc, which, thanks to a hefty infusion of Walmart bucks via the Walton Foundation ($6 million in the past two years, to be precise), will soon be building even more schools with even more excellence. Note: as the Walton Foundation is beneficently underwriting so much excellence these days ($164 million in 2013), I will henceforth be designating the recipients of excellent Walton $$ with this tiny w. Now, onto Building Excellent Schoolsw.
A prison of measured time
If you are an EduShyster premium reader, you have already encountered Building Excellent Schools. Recall, if you will, little Carolina’s “college prep” academy, where little Carolina is learning the skills she will need to become a research scientist a really excellent associate at a big box store. Also, Cornerstone Prep in Memphis, TN, where children perform multiple tasks, like practicing their multiplication tables as they wait in line to go to the bathroom, in order to master the lost art of efficiency. At these and a long list of excellent schools that have already been built around the country, the stopwatch is king, preparing the students of today to punch the time clocks of tomorrow.
The pace may be frenetic action, judging by the stopwatches Cornerstone teachers wear to time even simple tasks while chanting an almost mesmerizing mantra of praise and encouragement. Cornerstone teachers work the line for the bathroom, quizzing children on addition and subtraction tables.
Or there’s Prestige Academy, another Building Excellent Schoolsw production.
Then you notice something about the teachers. It’s something that hangs around their necks. Something small and black. Something important. A stopwatch. And it’s not just the teachers who wear them. Every adult does: the nurse, the office staff, the dean of students—even Jack Perry, Prestige Academy’s 36-year-old founder and president.
You notice something else about the teachers too: they are at-will employees who teach on one-year contracts and can be fired at any time. Which is excellent, as the exciting 21st century workplace for which little Carolina and her friends are preparing is also union free. And unlike the day at a typical union-stifled public school, which ends at 3:00 so that the LIFO lifers can ‘get their drink on,’ the school day at a typical Building Excellent Schoolsw school is really long. Just like the typical workday at Walmart, which may not end until the managers unlock the doors. In other words, the students of today are finally learning the essential skillz that our failing public schools have denied them for so long. Also these excellent schools are preparing students for the diverse workplaces of the 21st century by surrounding them with authority figures who are overwhelmingly white.
And now a word from our sponsor
Today’s post is brought to you by Walmart, which currently employs 1% of the US population, and thanks to the generosity of Walmart heirs, the Walton family, funds 99% of the education reform movement. Which brings us back to the fierce urgency of the skills gap. If the true aim of Building Excellent Schoolsw is to produce the workers of tomorrow today, why bother with the middle man at all? In the interest of efficiency (and excellence), why not let Walmart open the next generation of schools? Now that would be an associate degree worth banking on.
Send tips, comments or skills-building exercises to firstname.lastname@example.org.