Somewhere along the way too many people, including our president, have become convinced that the only path to success in this country goes through the gates of some university. High school diplomas don't signify anything anymore other than the ability to sit through 4 years of high school; Exhibit A for this statement is the number of college students, high school graduates all, who need remedial classes in college. Since high school diplomas don't mean anything anymore, companies use their acquisition as some minimum sorting device--no diploma, no job, no questions. Jobs that in the past would have been done by clerical staff now require a college degree just so the hiring company can have some justification for believing that the new hire has at least a basic level of knowledge and an ability to think. Thus, we continue to send more people to college in order to get a credential that a high school diploma used to confer. The cost of higher education makes this racket--what's the new popular buzzword?--unsustainable.
Rhode Island is going to try a tiered diploma system, long a staple in NYC:
The best students in Rhode Island’s most rigorous schools may get a Regents diploma showing they’ve met state standards, while most graduates would earn a local diploma, reports the Providence Journal...
The plan would give schools and students “incentives to work hard and improve during the last two years of high school,” regents said.
It's a start, a step in the right direction. Or is it? Wouldn't the students capable of earning a Regents diploma be college-bound anyway?
We need to restore the value of a high school diploma. One thing we might consider doing, if we're serious about this, is to stop giving diplomas to everyone just for showing up. If we did that we perhaps might not need tiered diplomas.