Workplace Literacy – What a Great Idea!

June 20, 2012

Oregon public education is changing in a major way.  We no longer elect a Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The Governor now wears that additional hat.  Our last elected Superintendent is ending her term early (at the end of the June).  The Governor has appointed his chief education officer to oversee the Oregon Department of Education, as well as the community college system and the system of higher education.  All of this change has created quite a stir.  The Governor has nominated Rudy Crew as his chief education officer, and this has added to the controversy.  I’m not here to take sides or weigh in on this appointment.  


But the Oregonian newspaper’s website ran an editorial by former head of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Jack Roberts that provoked my thinking.  He quoted Mr. Crew, as follows:


“It is unacceptable for students not to know the rules of work: that there is a time and place for everything and that a work environment, interview, or formal setting requires a different attire from a mall, a ball game, or just hanging out. … Teaching children about time and place is as important as teaching them about math and science. And if we don’t teach them that, we’re consigning them to a permanent place in the underclass of society.”


Roberts goes on to list “some of the things Crew believes young people should know in order to possess this workplace literacy:

  • Basic financial realities and budgeting.
  • How to balance a checkbook.  
  • How interest and credit work.
  • What to wear and how to conduct themselves in an interview.   
  • How to write a proper and effective letter and email.   
  • What general area of study or employment they want to head toward.   
  • The fundamentals of how money works in our economy and government.”

Again, I’m not weighing in for or against Mr. Crew’s appointment.  But I am glad to hear his viewpoint on what I consider a vital part of a high school education.  I teach my business students much of this, and much much more.  Workplace literacy is just one element of a good high school education, but an important one.  I hope you agree!

Posted by marks on Wednesday June 20, 2012 at 12:07PM

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