WASHINGTON, DCA Department of Labor report released Monday finds that America's high schools are not sufficiently preparing emerging dropouts for the demands of unemployment.
In a letter introducing the report, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao explained that schools routinely fail to impart dropouts with the critical lying- and sitting-around skills they need to thrive in today's jobless market.
"Our public high schools place too much focus on preparing kids for professional careers," Chao said. "This waste of resources leaves our dropouts, the majority of whom have no chance of ever finding a job, wholly unprepared to sleep till 1 p.m., or watch daytime television while eating ramen noodles out of an upturned Frisbee."
According to the study, America's weakest academic performers also drop out of high school without ever having learned to steal beer money from their housemates' change jars or wash their hair with bar soap.
"This oversight cannot continue if our kids are to become unproductive citizens," Chao said. "The future dregs of society are not being served."
Despite massive cuts in recent decades, some remnants of math and science instruction continue to plague many school districts. These courses, Chao argued, waste valuable time and money.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings defended the nation's public-school system.
"Educators do a lot to ensure that the most hopeless students slip through the cracks," Spellings said. "Arbitrary rules, irregularly enforced discipline, and pointless paperwork are just the first things that come to mind."[pagebreak]
She added: "Easy grading encourages students to be sloppy and late handing in homeworka skill that makes future deadbeats very competitive in stonewalling landlords and bill collectors."
Chao said educators need to think outside the classroom and give kids some real off-the-job experience.
"Increasing suspensions and expulsions is a good start," Chao said. "Furthermore, scoliosis exams should be made more routine, so students learn to adapt to the all-underwear wardrobe typical of the non-working class."
Chao also suggested that schools hold more blood drives, which would prepare dropouts for visits to their local blood-plasma donation centers for quick and easy cash.
Some educators say the report paints too bleak a picture of schools' efforts to instill students with a lack of ambition.
"We are doing a terrible, terrible job," said James Dunham, the principal of HS 445 in New York. "We literally could not be doing any worse."
Dunham highlighted the fact that the hallways of his school are lined with vending machines that sell nothing but unhealthy snack products such as soda and potato chips, both of which acclimate students to the diet of a jobless lowlife.
Susan French, a spokesperson for the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, said educators are superb role models for the unemployed dropouts of tomorrow.
Said French: "Students spend seven hours a day surrounded by adults who despise their low-paying jobs. If the critics out there know a better way to discourage a young person from entering the work force, I'd like to see it."