Well, duh -- a phrase painfully familiar in the modern American classroom. Skills matter, knowledge matters, rational understanding is consequential to national survival because ...? Duh. It's gotten hard to explain. Fearful of waiting too long for government to lead the struggle, and it is one, for education excellence, American business is taking a hand.
The left hates, or anyway doesn't much approve of, business on account of its penchant for such low-minded things as making a profit: often while oppressing the Workers. Boo and hiss to the men in the striped pants and toppers is the rule-of-thumb position for many in the Obama administration and its extended ideological family.
On the other hand, business attributes -- foresight, energy, a knack for flexibility and creative thinking -- make business an indispensable ally in the quest, such as it is, to restore educational competence and achievement to the country that once thought it had invented them.
According to the Journal, various educational initiatives are going forth under business sponsorship. These aim at the imparting of basic skills to tomorrow's work force, coming up fast as an estimated 2.7 million manufacturing employees pass the 55-year-old mark or marks even higher.
Among partners in the venture are blue-ribbon groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. A vacuum cleaner company in Chicago has, for instance, opened engineering clubs for students at 20 middle schools. Among various objectives of the interventionists, there's the upgrading of course work and requirements at community colleges in order to emphasize the acquisition of technical skills.
Readin', writin' and 'rithmetic continue as essentials, but the requirements of the day -- evidently not well distilled in American secondary school students -- seem to grow exponentially. Test scores show U.S. students fare less well on the tests in question than do Chinese, South Korean, Japanese and German students. That's not to call these foreign students better persons; it is to pronounce them better equipped for the economy of the 21st century. Enter the U.S. business community.
Government at different levels, mostly until recent years the state level, has for a long time shaped the educational product. Government designs the curriculum and defines the expected outcomes. It worked for decades. It doesn't work now -- not to the extent it once did.