The article operates on a number of cliches that have come to define the education debate. Will the students make more money? That definition of success is narrow and even thoughtless. How many could go to tech school for a trade, but instead get bachelor's degrees and make less money as social workers, teachers, editors, researchers, and so on, but do society a great service? Education is about doing what one wants to do for a living, not the amount made.
It seems so self-evident. The profit motive is not and cannot be the sine qua non of education. People get educations to get educated -- it has its own value. Another way to put it: One doesn't go to law school to become a lawyer, one goes to law school to learn about the law.
It's a cliched phrase itself -- "do a good job" -- that I see on student writing often. "Plato does a good job" ... "James Joyce does a good job" ... "Nabokov does a good job" ... "Jesus does a good job." Come on. Is there not something higher to life than this phrase "job"? It's not what education is about. Job, salary, and security are offshoots of good education, not the other way around.
Yet when you look at our actual policies, you have to wonder. Many colleges and high schools still fail to do a good job, year after year, with little consequence. And in the deepest recession in a generation, at the very moment when education would be of most value, money for it is disappearing. It’s almost as if we’ve been convinced that college isn’t, after all, all that different from locking somebody in a closet for four years.