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changes in the way Americans view family life and added economic stres-
sors on single women.
Murray (2012) believes that the extensive welfare programs created in
the 1960s reduced incentives for less-educated white and minority citi-
zens to maintain traditional work and community values, and that those
in the affluent middle and upper classes have a responsibility to speak out
about the loss of virtuous behavior. It's not too late to change the trend,
according to Murray, but as a result of a substantial change in the culture
regarding work and civic values, he believes that in 2012, “America is
falling apart” (p. C1).
We don't agree with Murray and believe that tax laws benefiting the
rich, the loss of adequate paying jobs, and the lack of quality education
and training have caused many working-class Americans to give up.
Whichever reason you believe is responsible for high rates of long-term
unemployment, many Americans across race, ethnicity, and social class
lack a strong work ethic.
Both authors of this topic are educators. We have seen a rapid decline
in university standards and a significant increase in grade inflation, where
As are so common that anything less than a grade of A often brings with
it a student grade grievance. The mean undergraduate grade point aver-
age at a university at which one of the authors taught was 3.6 on a 4.0
scale, an increase from 2.3 just 15 years earlier. A colleague of ours was
fired from a teaching position because he was told his tests were too diffi-
cult and that student morale was affected. Over three million jobs went
unfilled in America in 2011 during our current economic crisis with high
unemployment, because employers could not find qualified American
workers—often because technology is considered too difficult by many
US students and young adults. In a Wall Street Journal report, Madigan
(2011) wrote that 40% of small businesses studied said it was “not easy at
all” to find good help. Only 14% said hiring good workers was “very” or
“extremely” easy. The report notes that in addition to finding workers
with good technical skills, it was very difficult to hire workers who were
punctual and reliable. Almost one-third of the respondents said they had
seen very few qualified applicants for their firms' open positions, even
though business owners were increasing compensation.
We will address the problems of the declining work ethic in more
detail in the final chapter but we agree with Murray that a new work
ethic is in order and that those of us who hold a bully pulpit because of
our achievements and positions have a responsibility to use it to begin the
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