It is revealing (and pathetic) to watch Jesse Watters of Fox News interview Americans on the street, especially young people at colleges. Most have no clue about basics such as “Who is your Congressman?,” “When did World War II end?” or “Name an important inventor in American history.”

Yet these snot-nose college kids disrupt and destroy the institutions they attend, where they learn little, incur debt that someone else pays and cannot articulate or behave as responsible adults. Most businesses cannot employ the bulk of these dysfunctional former students. 

Recently, Dr. Everett Piper of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Tulsa spoke directly to college students, saying that “institutions of higher learning are not daycare centers” and that students need to grow up. This is a matter that deserves your attention. The following provides some background and several related suggestions.

High-school textbooks that were formerly written for 12th graders and at a 12th-grade level are now written at a 7th- or 8th-grade level. Most college-level mathematics today is what high-school math was 40-plus years ago. All of this could be traced to the period after WWII when American business was challenged by rebuilding industrial economies in Europe and Asia.

Soon, U.S. industrial automation rose and released low-skill workers with a fall in real wages. America experienced an increase in birth rates, especially among unmarried women, resulting in increased poverty and one-parent homes. The lower end of the social and educational spectrum has continued to devolve for these 40-plus years.

Other rising industrial countries base student records on performance, but similar rules were not maintained in the U.S., and wobbly standards became weak and inadequate. Over time, teacher status fell as their levels of literacy declined. As grade inflation occurred as a public salve, both lower- and higher-education student performance declined. Subsequently, literacy has declined. 

Since higher education runs in many ways as a business with employees and facilities to operate, the trend today is to maintain high enrollment through emphasis on amenities rather than the academic program. All schools aid student-loan placements, while most pay tenured instructors high to outrageous wages.  (Name any other profession that grants tenure without a recourse for removal.)

This deterioration, if not collapse, in the quality of American education has bred results that daily newscasts describe: student and teacher lack of touch with reality; failings in student performance; and rebellion by students, many teachers and administrators into what Dr. Piper terms “ideological fascism.” 

The effects of these conditions are critical for American industry. With a paucity of competent graduates, particularly in technical or other skilled positions, the future is not as bright as it should or needs to be. Here are a few suggestions to ameliorate problems and reverse these dismal trends.

  • Industry associations should be advised of concerns by member companies about the future availability of competent, potential employees. These concerns can be formulated into position papers for distribution to colleges and universities stating suggested remedies.
  • Industry can instruct university administrators and their state and local government authorities with oversight on positions that are deemed corrective, beneficial and required before specific industrial operations (by name) will consider employment of graduates from the targeted school(s).
  • Industry can express its intent and resolve to withhold financial support from any university failing to undertake meaningful remedies to these escalating sets of problems.
  • Individual companies can express support or disapproval to educational institution administrators for any views that are aimed to improve or redress issues related to quality education and its improvement. It is obvious that the greater the number of firms that participate in such an exercise, the greater the potential for success.
  • Companies should express support or provide aid to local schools and their administrators regarding remedies to problems, and they should never become involved with politics. Focus on problems. Straight talk is important.