If states want to make it easier for students to reach the middle class, they should follow Louisiana’s lead when it comes to the expectations for earning a high school diploma.What's clear, or at least what should be clear, is that not everyone needs to go to college, and no society on the planet will function the way it's envisioned when all members have a college degree. Somebody has got to prepare that double-soy latte, and that person doesn't need a degree. Someone has to stock the grocery store shelves, and that person doesn't need a degree. Someone has to deliver your packages, and that person doesn't need a degree. Someone has to work in the mall, and the vast majority of those people don't need a degree.
As a recent report by the Center for American Progress shows, Louisiana is one of just four states where the coursework requirements to graduate high school match the coursework required to for college eligibility. What’s more, Louisiana is one of only two states where the coursework requirements include high-level science and math, three years of study in social science, and two years of a single foreign language — the same coursework that most public universities require.
The implications are clear. States need to make two changes to their graduation requirements: strengthen them and ensure they meet what’s required for public university admissions.
In other words, it's silly to push for everyone to have a degree.
But we're not saying everyone needs a degree, what we're saying is that everyone should have the option of getting one if they want one--that's the counter. Of course, that argument is just as silly. Do we really believe that everyone is capable of earning a university degree? I don't. And that's just fine. Not everyone needs a degree to signify competence--when the guy at the shop tracks down and fixes the battery drain in my new trailer, I pay well for that. And he doesn't have any student loans, either.
What this "higher graduation requirements" drive does is pressure teachers to lower standards so that students will pass. It encourages "credit recovery" programs that allow a student to jump through a few hoops and "pass" a course in 2 weeks that they couldn't pass in 36. It allows elected officials and school district personnel to pat themselves on the back for "improving standards" when they've in fact done just the opposite.
Do you really want to improve the quality of high school graduates? Make high school less academic. Bring back vocational education programs, and yes, even "home ec". Bring back some of those courses that young adults now pay for and call "adulting" classes. And quit trying to make home ec and voc ed square pegs fit into the round hole of "college".
I come from California, which has a very extensive community college system. Anyone who wants to can take CC courses, and they're reasonably priced. But let's please stop pretending that everyone needs or should go to college.