February 22, 2006
High school exit exam a test for teachers,
What about the integrity of requiring seniors in high
school to pass the California graduation exam?
Without quantifiable standards, progress cannot be measured.
Without progress and improvement, performance levels
drop. Eroding standards spell disaster. Future contributors
must have the intellectual tools to sustain and improve
the world they will inherit. They must be able to assess
food quality, medical services and transportation safety,
as well as constructive technological breakthroughs.
Preparing young people to function effectively in the
21st century is the responsibility of today's educational
Sitting in a classroom does not make one an informed
person any more than standing in a garage makes one
When learning has taken place, it can be verified, and
Many years ago, one of our clients was building his third
successful software company, and he had hired our management
consulting firm to fine-tune the leadership skills of
his key people. He chose to introduce me with the following
Bracher is the smartest man I ever met who was not wearing overalls." Yes,
you read the words correctly, "not wearing overalls" - the uniform
of choice for those who make their living tilling the soil, at least in the Midwest,
where our client (and I) had been reared.
After his remarks, my question, in front of his team,
was: "Is this a compliment?" He
assured me that it was, because he had never met a dumb farmer.
He then asked if I had ever known a dumb farmer. When
I said I was not sure, he made the point that farmers
who are not alert, flexible and hardworking will likely
go out of business.
Smart and successful farmers deal with circumstances
that are often unpredictable: weather, pests, bugs, price
fluctuations, expensive equipment, fuel costs and labor.
Their need for knowledge and the ability to function
efficiently and effectively - in many areas - separates
the real farmers from the pretenders. They profit from
the positive consequences of preparedness.
Likewise, students facing their tomorrows - whether they
continue formal studies or join the work force - must
balance knowledge with application of math, science,
communication skills and social awareness.
Integrity-centered leaders will enable the next generation
to cope and succeed, auditing their progress and providing
supportive tutoring where required.
Learning for survival and success is no longer an option,
it is a must.