Forget universal preschool: What we really need is 13th grade

Forget universal preschool: What we really need is 13th grade

[Ed. – Speak for yourself.]

In education circles, universal preschool is hot. But it’s only half the answer. If we really want to raise a generation of employable kids, we need universal 13th and 14th grades too.

As taxpayers, we’ve decided to subsidize the education of every American child between the ages of 5 and 18. But current education funding structures reflect a bygone industrial age, when a high school diploma met or in some cases exceeded the needs of the local and national economies. Now, neither preschool nor college is a luxury, and families shouldn’t have to pay for the schooling that keeps society running.

Creating grades 13 and 14 would reduce student debt significantly, while also providing kids without college degrees a viable path to work. And it would offer students who need remedial courses a chance to catch up. Right now, those kids often pay out-of-pocket for classes that don’t count toward their degree.

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Such a program wouldn’t be cheap. But the government already pays for 13th and 14th grade, in the form of hodgepodge student loans.

Instead, all students should receive a voucher they can use for middle colleges, community colleges, or four-year degree programs. State and federal governments should also begin to negotiate the amount of grants and loans given to colleges and universities to prevent tuition inflation.

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