That last suggestion requires the common schools to take basic academic skills seriously. A youngster full of self-esteem might think he or she is capable of carrying my calipers, but just one hole drilled off center and improperly tapped will give the lie to that conceit.
High participation rates in systems of higher education that do not educate, and in economies that have very few jobs for graduates (see the absurd French employment system, which discourages employers from hiring employees, for instance) are probably a bad thing. You produce pseudo college people with high expectations for themselves that will not be fulfilled, thus insuring a restive population.
[California's John] Douglass [more here] asks that we worry about the fact that “the US has decently competitive rates of participation in tertiary education, but meager and declining rates of actual degree attainment.” I do think we should worry about this, but on the other hand the employment rate for most of this country suggests to me that many dropouts are getting jobs. More broadly, I don’t see college as something everyone needs in order to be gainfully and satisfactorily employed. On the contrary, the US needs to be far more serious than it has been about vocational schooling.
QUOTE OF THE DAY. University Diaries, on higher education policy.