Schools Fail to Stress Good Character, Business Says

Associated Press

Business leaders charged in a report today that America’s schools are failing to foster character traits like teamwork and honesty, which they consider as crucial to career success as the Three Rs.

The 107-page report, “Investing in Our Children: Business and the Public Schools,” said schools should stress the “invisible curriculum” of teamwork, honesty, reliability, self-discipline and “learning how to learn.”

It also recommended that schools use business tactics, with successful schools allowed freer rein and failures put in “receivership.”

Students Get Message


A majority of the business leaders surveyed in the report said “an alarming number” of students leave high school with the unwholesome message that the adult world tolerates tardiness, absenteeism and misbehavior.

“If schools tolerate excessive absenteeism, truancy, tardiness or misbehavior, we cannot expect students to meet standards of minimum performance or behavior either in school or as adults,” the report said.

The three-year, $1-million study is perhaps the clearest expression ever of what the business world wants from public schools.

It is the latest of more than a dozen education critiques published by various sources since a presidential commission in April, 1983, issued a report decrying the “rising tide of mediocrity” in America’s schools.

Top-to-Bottom Reform

Today’s report differed from earlier critiques in stressing “bottom-up reform” and warned against excessive state regulation. It said that unless a district is foundering, states should leave the running of classrooms to local school boards, principals and a revitalized, well-paid teaching profession.

“This report is a strong call for stringent education standards and tough discipline, but we also want to encourage maximum creativity on how these standards are achieved,” Owen B. Butler, chairman of Procter & Gamble and head of the 60-member panel that produced the study, said at a news conference.

The study was produced by the New York-based Committee for Economic Development, a public policy research group whose 225 trustees mostly are top corporate executives.