Here is an interesting post by Chester Finn of the conservative Fordham Institute. He’s making the case for a two-tier high school diploma. That’s unlikely to happen in most states any time soon but, whether or not you buy that idea, his big picture view of how well American education prepares its students for college is useful.
This is more interesting coming from Fordham than from many others on the right. Fordham supports “school choice,” as it’s called. That’s usually a euphemism for replacing district schools with charter schools and private school vouchers. But Finn and Fordham actually do appear to be invested in improving American public education as provided by district schools as well. Unlike many on the right, they support the Common Core standards and other progressive strategies.
So when Finn talks about the challenges facing public education, as he does in this post, he is arguing for improvements, not privatization:
Today, far less than half of U.S. twelfth graders are “college ready.” (Never mind those who have already dropped out of high school.) The National Assessment Governing Board estimates that not quite 40 percent are college ready. The ACT folks estimate 26 percent are college ready across the four subjects that comprise their suite of questions.
Literally millions of others go on to college anyway, generally into remedial—the polite term is “developmental”—classes and, often, to fall by the wayside and never earn a degree.
The Common Core is supposed to solve that problem by producing generations of high school graduates who are truly college ready. How can that happen unless the K–12 system radically alters what high school diplomas signify?