Our spelling word for today

There is an op-ed piece in yesterday's P-I by David Marshak. In it, he questions why we ever listened to Washington Mutual CEO Kerry Killinger on education issues and suggests that now, with that corporation's troubles, why we should ever pay attention to Mr. Killinger or continue to respect his proposals.

Mr. Marshak is, of course, absolutely correct. Mr. Killinger does not have any expertise in education and never did. Mr. Killinger's favored view on education is absurd at its face. Mr. Killinger should never have been as influential on education issues as he has been and now, with the downturn in his company's fortunes - not to mention his questionable integrity - he is likely to exercise less influence going forward.

Just the same, there was a distinctly bitter flavor to the column.

Our spelling word for today, boys and girls, is schadenfreude - \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun: A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others. For a great number of people, few things are as gratifying as an enemy's downfall.


I would agree that Dr. Marshak is probably too harsh on Mr. Killinger. I think the larger issue is the undue influence of business leaders in education. Bill Gates comes to mind.

I believe Mr. and Mrs. Gates will change the face of health care in the world. They have taken unbelievable steps to have a major impact on these issues. Mr. Gates is, of course, a very bright guy.

However, many equate brilliance in business with brilliance in everything. Not so. The Gates' transformation plans, the smaller school communities ideas were all done with the best of intentions and a lot of naivety about how quickly all these transformations could be done and how soon you could see results. The fact that he hired someone who had been a business guy turned superintendent (not Olchefske, even Gates wouldn't do that; it was Tom Vander Ark) shows how out of touch the whole enterprise was.

I think the business community absolutely has a right to be at the table in discussions about public education but they should not be afforded any more importance than other communities.

(I remember going to the State Board of Education meeting on graduation requirements and the business table had a request. Could the high schools stick in a brief course workplace behavior - manners, dress, decorum in a business situation - for high school students because too many high school and college students seem to think that flip flops are business wear and being on time is optional? I sympathize with them but I think the high schools have enough to do already.)

Charlie, you hit on one of my favorite words - other languages are able to sum up a feeling or situation with a single word like schadenfreude.
anonymous said…
I don't think a course on business etiquette is so far out of line. The problem is how does a high school squeeze it in, and what class would the student not take in lieu of taking "business etiquette"?. Perhaps it could be an elective, though I can't imagine it being very popular.

I say this because I worked as a recruiter for many years, and watched way to many young people arrive to my interviews in t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, even sweat pants! Many were proud to display their tattoos, face piercings etc. A few were on time, but many were late....some no showed and didn't have the professionalism or manners to cancel. I actually had a hand out that I would give the qualified candidates on what to where, and how to conduct themselves on their interviews! So, I can empathize with business owners, and managers.

Now having said that, I also have to say that I LOVE Seattle's laid back, casual, work environment. My husband works at Microsoft and enjoys their very casual work environment, including no dress code.

I'm just saying that kids need to learn that until you get the OK from an employer, dress to impress, and be on time!
Momma Snark said…
Honestly, I don't sense bitterness here so much as I do righteous indignation, which I completely understand. This indignation just happens to be directed at a specific person.

While some may complain that Marshak is guilty of "kicking a man while he's down," it seems to me he is merely pointing out that Killinger's hubris and miscalculation in business doesn't quite jibe with the ideal of "accountability for all."

And I am the queen of schadenfreude, so I should know. :)

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