There aren’t enough jobs around right now, and yet the New York Times tells us The Powers That Be intend to turf young job-seekers into the marketplace sooner and make the old people keep working menial jobs later. Tough times!
First, there is the ‘New Plan to Let High Schoolers Graduate 2 Years Early’:
Dozens of public high schools in eight states will introduce a program next year allowing 10th graders who pass a battery of tests to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college.
Students who pass but aspire to attend a selective college may continue with college preparatory courses in their junior and senior years, organizers of the new effort said. Students who fail the 10th-grade tests, known as board exams, can try again at the end of their 11th and 12th grades. The tests would cover not only English and math but also subjects like science and history.
The new system of high school coursework with the accompanying board examinations is modeled largely on systems in high-performing nations including Denmark, England, Finland, France and Singapore.
The program is being organized by the National Center on Education and the Economy, and its goals include insuring that students have mastered a set of basic requirements and reducing the numbers of high school graduates who need remedial courses when they enroll in college. More than a million college freshmen across America must take remedial courses each year, and many drop out before getting a degree.
On the one hand, this sounds a bit like reverting to the pre-1950s norm, where a high school degree meant you were literate enough to take a serious job and be worth paying wages. And there’s certainly plenty of wasted time in the average high school curriculum. On the other hand, modern Americans seem to have lost all interest in belonging to a “high-performing nation”, and this could easily be read as enshrining a two-tier caste system where the upper income classes nurse their golden offspring through extra years of college prep, while the rest of us proles are left competing for whatever service jobs can’t be offshored or handled more cheaply by robots. So — like today, only more?