Joel Belz: McDonald’s and McGuffey

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, October 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. As Warren Buffett says, integrity, intelligence, and energy are what you need in an employee. In business, if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Imagine for a few minutes, if you will, that you’re the manager of your local McDonald’s restaurant.

REICHARD: Commentary now from Joel Belz.

BELZ: For the third straight day, as you seek to reconcile your registers, your cash record is off. But now, as you reflect on what might be happening with your youthful staff, you puzzle over a strange pair of possible explanations. Are you dealing with incompetence—or might it be dishonesty?

For you, and for thousands of other employers like you, the answer is critical. Because now it appears that many of America’s schools are also leaving you vulnerable in terms of their morality and ethics. And that’s apart from how they’ve left graduates in jeopardy in terms of raw skills.

So just how much morality, or how much by way of traditional ethics, would you say is the right amount for our nation’s schools to be feeding their students? How much honesty? How much respect for life? How much compassion for the down and out? How much even of the Golden Rule?

Well, no matter how little you’ve come to expect on that score, your hopes are probably too high. Published reports, like some from the Gallup Poll, suggest that a majority of public school teachers think such expectations are outside their job descriptions.

Parents want moral values taught in school, mind you. It’s the teachers who object on philosophical or practical grounds; many teachers fear that such programs will stir up controversy in their classrooms where diverse student bodies already cause plenty of headaches.

But wait! It just isn’t going to work any longer for our educational leaders to cop out and say they want no part of this important assignment. Couldn’t some of them look for a little help from sources like the good old McGuffey Readers, with their strong moral messages?  It’s not as though we’re asking them to preach sermons from the Bible.

Here’s the stark and sober reality: If you’re a consumer of the typical products of American education, you’re facing a double deficiency. The graduates you’re expected to hire tend more and more to lack both the (1) raw skills and (2) the morality and integrity you need to run your business. Both assets need to be rebuilt throughout our nation.

It’s possible to imagine McDonald’s and all its corporate counterparts engaging in a mammoth repair job after schools failed to give their graduates basic skills.

But to ask them to rebuild empty hearts and souls is something else again. The catch-22 is that the very teacher who doesn’t desperately want to teach such things is absolutely the last one you want to teach them. Honesty and integrity that don’t flow from deep within a person have little to do with the real thing.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

(AP Photo/Don Ryan) In this Sept. 9, 2010, file photo, a McDonald’s sign is shown in Portland, Ore. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Joel Belz: McDonald’s and McGuffey

  1. Tom Ham says:

    Stating something so clearly in so few words is greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing. Now, how can this message be broadcast far and wide beyond the World family?

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