NR Digital

Teaching to the Rest

by Oren Cass

High-school education should meet the needs of all students

Having marched single-file through years of education, America’s class of 2017 recently climbed onstage to receive their high-school diplomas. Their experiences to that point were remarkably similar for so diverse a group of 3 million minds, the objective of college enrollment almost universal. Yet, after shaking hands with the principal, their paths diverged sharply — as if separate staircases led down the stage’s other side.

Roughly speaking, one fifth of all students were already off track and did not join their classmates crossing the stage. Another fifth will move from their senior year to something besides further schooling. The third fifth will enroll in college but fail to complete it. A fourth fifth will complete some form of college but land in jobs that do not require the degrees they just earned. Only a final, fortunate fifth will successfully navigate the path — high school to college to career — that is our education system’s platonic ideal.

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