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ERIC Number: EJ838428
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar-20
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
In a Crisis, Our Nation Must Have an Ambitious Education Strategy
Simpson, John
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n28 pA72 Mar 2009
America's present economic unraveling has attracted intense interest among policy makers and the public. A far greater number of analysts that predicted the crisis now seem to know a path out of it. To be sure, the new president does not lack for advice on how to fix the situation. While the financial and regulatory underpinnings of the current crisis have earned significant attention, the accelerated erosion of the educational foundation of America's national success has drawn relatively little notice. Virtually lost in recent months is the finding that today's young adults are now expected to finish no more college than their parents' generation. Today's young Hispanic adults are in fact less likely to graduate from college than were those of the preceding generation. As people struggle with the toughest economic outlook in decades, the opportunity for Americans to become better educated and more skilled over time is growing weaker, not stronger. The reasons for the stalling of higher-education attainment are complex and open to debate, but if the trend is allowed to continue, the damage will be more profound than the present recession. In the 21st century, precious few good-paying jobs will be available to a generation of young people bearing fewer diplomas than their parents. Higher education must again be treated as a public good, and to get there, federal leadership is needed. The mantle is there for the taking by the new president and his administration to put the nation on a course to achieve perhaps a half-dozen reachable and easily understandable goals in the next decade. However those are specified, they must be subsumed under a broad commitment to maintaining and enhancing the best higher-education enterprise in the world. Once the nation understands the goals, incentives can be created for the public and private sectors at all levels to help achieve them. Across its history, America has reacted to moments of major global technological change by committing itself to ambitious national goals, and has proved remarkably resourceful at times of national crisis. The present crisis is, perhaps, harder to understand and diagnose than past ones, but is no less threatening. This author contends that if Americans can harness the nation's collective will, put it toward the purpose of shoring up the educational foundation of the national prosperity, and include all Americans in the results regardless of station, America will have shown that resourcefulness once again.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A