March 1 1992 by Chief Executive
To the Editor:
Once again, Dr. Edwin J. Feulner has provided a myopic, one-sided perspective on a complicated problem and as a result provides a simplistic solution in
“What Business Leaders Can Teach The Educators” (September 1991).
Free markets may be a solution in the business community, where raw materials can be purchased from a variety of sources, their specifications can be prescribed and poor quality materials rejected, the process of producing finished goods is controlled by the producer, and only finished goods need be purchased by the consumer. These are not characteristics of any public education system!
The “public school monopoly” that Dr. Feulner rails against is required to accept all individuals who are in its service area and meet the prescribed age qualification. This includes individuals with a wide range of intellectual ability, readiness, and willingness to learn, emotional stability, and socio-economic background. Will his “competition” accept this raw material without question?
Dropping out of school is not a new phenomenon. In fact, more students attend school for longer periods than at any other time in our history. Do all these individuals want to attend or are the compulsory education laws their only motivation? However, we should note that basic industry in
Please note that the basic skills Dr. Feulner mentions in passing are no longer those of 10, 20, or 30 years ago-the skills that policymakers were taught. These leaders expect the “products” of our schools to know these skills and more; however, it is valuable to note that the time to teach and learn these skills has not been increased!
Finally, I seriously doubt that Dr. Feulner, Secretary Kearns, our business leaders, or any other caring adult wants the children of
Arthur L. Friedman
Dr. Feulner replies: Professor Friedman is right; our children are not commodities. But the education system treats them that way, consigning them to crime- and drug-infested warehouses for up to 12 years and then dumping them, unprepared, on a market that has little use for people with only marginal reading and math skills. And that’s exactly why we need school choice.
Poor parents, in particular, must face the kind of situation I just described; they have no choice. And, yes, some of these kids have special problems. Will competition among schools help them, Friedman asks? Indeed, in situations in which parents can choose among schools, we not only see overall improvement in education generally, but an increase in the number of schools offering special programs. In other words, Professor Friedman, we see the market responding to the needs of such parents.
School choice may not be the entire answer to America’s education woes, but it’s a good place to start.
SUCCESS IS RELATIVE
To the Editor:
After reading the roundtable on succession, I wish that I had been there just to hear the discussion. Succession planning is a most integral part of IGA’s success, and at our upcoming retailer meeting I plan to make some references to points that were made in the article. It is the type of material that one wishes could be placed on video so many more might have the benefit of it. Thank you for what it has meant to me.
Thomas S. Haggai
Chairman and President
Independent Grocers Alliance
High Point, NC
To the Editor:
I read the editorial lead-in for the succession roundtable (“To Heir Is Human,” September 1991) and was surprised by the misinformed and superficial nature of the piece.
Amerco is in its 45th year, and operates in all parts of North America, with over 20,000 agents and employees. While the corporation’s stockholders are a colorful and, sometimes, controversial group, the corporation’s leadership is stable and successful. Growing up around a family-owned company, I have participated in programs and discussions on management succession since I was 12 years old. Now, 30 years later, I have participated in a classic transition and done it under a spotlight. It is my wisdom today that such transitions in a family-owned company are not tidy, academic exercises. The success of a transition might be judged on the product/service delivered to the customer, as well as on the media exposure.
At Amerco, we are able to be proud, simultaneously, of the founders of the company and the present performers. My father was not given this company. Neither were the successful owner/ operators who run it today.
E.J. “Joe” Shoen
Chairman and President Amerco
HIGHWAY TO HELL
To the Editor:
I was extremely pleased to see Norman D. Gee’s article “Rebuilding The Infrastructure” (September 1991), addressing the deplorable condition of this country’s streets and highways. Perhaps the effects of this deteriorating street system are being felt here in southern California more than anywhere else. In addition to the added cost to goods and services due to traffic delays, consider the massive amounts of time that are lost due to congested streets and freeways that could be used to increase individual productivity or recreational opportunities. This situation must be addressed, and soon, if we hope to maintain any reasonably acceptable quality of life. It is time all levels of society realize how important a well-maintained street and highway system is to our future.
However, I must take exception to one of Mr. Gee’s premises; i.e., “Increased truck limits would actually help ease wear and tear on our highways…” The basic idea in road building is to construct it with sufficient thickness and internal strength to carry expected travel loads both as to volumes and weight. The structural function of the pavement is to support these anticipated wheel loads and spread that load to the subgrade without exceeding the internal strength of the road itself. When wheel loads exceed that for which the road has been designed, the pavement cracks and fails, eventually leading to a deteriorated, unusable road. Therefore, the contention that ever-increasing truck weights, even though they reduce truck trips, will prolong the life of a road is not valid. Increased truck loads are in fact the reason so many roads have failed. All you have to do is look at the truck lane on almost any highway to see the damage that is being done. All of us will continue to pay the price for this situation.
Patrick D. Howard
Bureau of Street Maintenance
Los Angeles, CA