This statement by the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan just came through my google feed in response to the “Condition of Education” report for 2009:
“These findings clearly show the need for us to make college available to all young people and adults and the bottom line benefits of a higher education. Over the last three decades immediate college enrollment increased for all income levels, although we still need to help close the gap between those who need financial help and those who don’t. The enrollment gap between students from low- and high-income families shrunk by nearly 50 percent, which means more low-income students are accessing college. This is extremely encouraging, as they have the potential to lift families out of circumstances of poverty. The financial advantages provided by a college education are clear. Young people with a bachelor’s degree earn twice as much as those without a high school diploma, according to this research.”
Here is my issue with these sorts of statements, as great as they sound on paper. What happens, with our current system, if everyone actually does have access to higher education, doesn’t it change that whole scenario? The system seems to have been specifically designed to be selective. The reason a college education is a financial advantage in the long-term is because it isn’t open to everybody. The financial advantages are obviously tied to the ability to acquire higher paying jobs with a degree, but are there enough of those jobs to meet a higher demand? And is higher education really preparing people for the jobs of tomorrow?