Two Paths Converge

I’m dumbfounded. Two professors from UNC-Chapel Hill actually said it: Not everyone should go to college.

In a new report, “Moving Beyond Plato versus Plumbing,” Daniel Gitterman and Peter Coclanis write:

Although studying Plato may be right for some and plumbing for others, a variety of diverse routes or “passways” must be developed to enable young people with different talents and interests to secure viable positions in today’s challenging labor market.

(They chose the term “passways” to echo the Robert Johnson blues song, “Stones in My Passway,” and also to distinguish their analysis from another by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which promotes  multiple “pathways.” Why they need to distinguish their analysis from Harvard’s, I don’t know.)

Gitterman and Coclanis are explicitly trying to create a bridge to what they call a “bipartisan consensus, acknowledging the value of four-year college degrees for some people and aiming for the goal of some form of postsecondary education for all.” They favorably cite three Pope Center writers (another reason for me to be floored!), while simultaneously suggesting that conservatives have created something of a straw man in the “college for all” craze.

Essentially, what we are seeing with this paper (and earlier with the Harvard paper) is an effort to tamp down the “go to college” rhetoric.  These two groups are bring some reality to today’s discussions of education during and after high school. More power to them.

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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