By Guy Gravenson
My cousin Guy, who lives in Mexico, decided to get into our little debating gig about whether anything good is likely to come from trying to teach corporate responsibility to some of the most irresponsible executives on earth. Here’s his take:
What is missing in all this back and forth, Bill, is the question of education, K-12. Educating the young. You suddenly don't come to a new set of ethics or morals as a grown person. You learn that in your formative years. And if you haven't learned it by high school, you get some standin to take your test or a crib sheet or hidden cell phone to slide you the answers. Corruption starts as soon as the teacher's back is turned.
A solution? Leave K-6 pretty much as it is now, a time to learn basic skills, to socialize and get into sports, and keep the brats out of the house for half a day for the parents to recover. At middle-school time, give all kids a FREE tablet (Kindle or iPad, whatever).
The tablet has no phone, no internet, so social networking sites. Just lessons, a library to get the answers -- and a connection to an adult mentor from the school. Kids work on their own or with peers to complete the lessons, whether programmed learning, multiple choice or composition. This is basic middle school stuff ... English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Civics (ethic lessons here), Second language...etc. Tests are taken back at the school, supervised, serious. If you fail a course you have to repeat it over the summer to graduate middle school. Then you hand back your tablet in exchange for a cap and gown.
Graduates go on to virtual High School. There can be a real high school in the neighborhood, of course, but students need only to check in to meet with teachers one-to-one and to do group assignments, social stuff. There are no class hours, except appointment times. The High School becomes a study hall. Again, all lessons are on individual FREE tablets, but these are not interchangable. They have a fingerprint match entry and other safeguards against theft/plagiarism. You carry it with you for 4 years. How fast you get through HS is up to you. You work at your own speed ... you take pop quizzes for your own edification. You just have to pass Government Regent tests -- standardized national tests (not State tests) on your climb out of high school. You have to pass 5 core subjects, and 5 elective subjects in each of those 4 years. Core manditory subjects: English composition, Math (algebra, geometry, trig,) Science (biology, chemistry, physics) Second Language, and American History. 5 elective subjects can be anything from logic to computer literacy, to theatre, to basic business administration, -- or anything teachable that interests the young person. So you need 40 credits to graduate High School -- and an optional 10 additional points in a particular field of interest or out-of-school volunteer/intern work that will go a long way to get you into college. After you pass your 40 credits, you have to take a day's worth of tests on everything you've learned (a comprehensive, like an S.A.T.) and an interview before a body of educators who will try to give you insight on where they think you should go next. Even help exceptional students to get to the college of their choice.
Of course, you can drop out whenever you want -- and clean off tables at Wendy's.