I can remember my dad telling the story on more than one occasion of how there were only 11 grades of public school when he was a kid back in the 1930's. I don't know if that was universal nation-wide or just in his small-town school district. Regardless, according to him it was a bit later that a 12th grade was added to the free public education system.
I'm guessing dad missed being in his senior class photo as he was probably in the principal's office. (This is actually a generic photo. Doesn't matter....he would still have been in the principal's office :)
What brought this to mind was a Facebook post I saw today quoting Democratic / Independent / Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders advocating a free college education for all.
I'm sure this brought squeals of glee from one end of the political spectrum and cries of anguish from the other extreme. That's always how we see things, either liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. If one side proposes something, the other opposes it, just to deny their opponent the satisfaction.
I don't look at things through those glasses. I think "practical". Example:
Knowledge is today exploding exponentially. Kids today have so much more to learn than I did when I was in school. Using dad's example, a 12th grade was probably added to the public education system because kids needed to absorb more information than they had in the past. (I won't go in to the "dumbing down" of the system over the intervening years. Grrr!)
Not long ago I was invited to visit the Lockheed Martin facility in Foat Wuth where we got a tour and heard a presentation by their PR folks. They told of how their greatest challenge today was finding / hiring enough qualified American engineers. (I say "American" because most of their work requires a very high security clearance, making many / most foreign-born engineers, technically qualified though they might be, automatically ineligible.) They said our stagnant (my word) educational system was hindering them.
There was a time when obtaining a high school education was considered adequate for a bright future. Then it became necessary to get a college education in order to climb the socio-economic ladder. Today some sort of advanced degree is becoming almost mandatory in order to rise above the lower / middle management level. Yet here we are 80 years after dad graduated, still with the same 12 grades of free public education. Helloooo?
"But...but...how would we ever pay for it?" Consider this (decade-old) census bureau chart:
Imagine how much more income tax revenue we could squeeze out of a Bachelor's / Master's / Doctorate Degree holder than we are getting from a high school graduate, much less a public school dropout? I'd look there for the additional funding!
I don't think every kid should necessarily get a free ride to Stanford or Princeton or Texas Tech....well OK, maybe Texas Tech....or that post-high school education even has to mean "college". There is a great need for trade skills such as welders, mechanics, medical techs, etc that require more education, but not an actual college degree.
I think this is an idea that might need to be looked into further. It seems to me that it would be in our NATIONAL SECURITY INTEREST to have the best educated population and the brightest, most dynamic workforce in the world. Right now lack of $$$ is no doubt holding back a lot smart kids. Yes, some can work 2 or 3 jobs and perhaps get there, but along the way I wonder how many others would simply, exhaustedly, give up the dream?
I say let the #$%^& Democrats and Republicans fight over who's bright idea it was. But lets do take the idea and see if we can find a way to make it work. Seems to me we'll all be better off if we somehow can.
And you say....?