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Alum writes book about American education crisis

Photo of R.W. Garrett book
Purdue IE alumnus Richard W. Garrett (BSIE 1962, MSIE 1964) feels so strongly about what he terms the “national crisis” in American education that he has written a book on the subject.

Garrett's book, The Kids are Smart Enough, So What's the Problem?, is a businessman's perspective on educational reform and the teacher crisis in America. Published by Rowman & Littlefield in December 2017, the book shows how struggling students can be reached and teachers encouraged.

"There is a national crisis in education, and it’s not the highly debated philosophical discussions or heated political arguments we are used to hearing," said Garrett. "Survey data establishes the fact that classrooms throughout the nation suffer from the presence of a small percentage of misbehaving students. Teachers are ill-equipped to deal with these disruptive students, resulting in lost classroom time and demoralized educators who are perpetually blamed for the students' bad performance. The root cause of these misbehaving children is not a lack of intellectual ability, but a lack of character and grit; the important non-cognitive skills required for success in life."
 
Garrett is a trained industrial engineer who earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue IE, and his PhD in operations research from Northwestern University.
 
"My training in IE has a lot to do with the existence of this book," Garrett said. "It is the inculcated passion for time that made this book work. It is my passion for the management of time and the resulting efficiency, inefficiency in this case, that makes the story. In my opinion, looking at education the way we did in this book could open up new areas for IE in education."
 
Garrett worked for 27 years for Eli Lilly & Company, where he was one of the corporate leaders in the use of the Total Quality process. After retiring from Lilly, he served for six-and-a-half years as an associate clinical professor at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, and was also a partner in a consulting firm during the same period. For 10 years he served as an accreditor of engineering departments with ABET, Inc., a non-governmental organization that accredits post-secondary education programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.
 
Prior to this book, Garrett’s most significant publication (co-authored with Dr. John R. Virts) was an article in the Harvard Business Review titled "Weighing Risk in Capacity Expansion". He is the founder of Elevate Teachers, "a community of private citizens, parents, and voters who believe teachers are public servants who deserve our support and respect." 
 
Writer: DeEtte Starr, starrd@purdue.edu