Retooling American Education

Jun 01, 2022

Different vocations require different sets of tools. Doctors require stethoscopes, mechanics wrenches. But when equipping its students, the American education system has but one tool available: college. However varied their aspirations and aptitudes, virtually every American student is subjected to college preparation. After high school, virtually every public education dollar goes to colleges and universities. The system has failed—even on its own terms—but what comes after? To properly equip students for their future vocations, the American education system must itself be equipped with different tools.

This Collection builds on Failing on Purpose, moving from the failures of College-for-All toward a vision of what lies beyond it. An essay symposium convenes policy experts and practitioners starting from points across the political spectrum and approaching reform from different angles. Their essays outline different philosophical approaches, highlight various case studies, and delineate discrete levers available to policymakers. A survey of American parents and young adults provides a comprehensive picture of Americans’ experiences and outcomes in the education system, exposing the realities of the college-to-career pipeline and the ways it caters to a narrow elite rather than the typical American.