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March 2016 | Volume 73 | Number 6
Learning for Life
Frederick M. Hess
Banal declarations that schools must prepare all students for college don't actually help schools improve.
American education has always been a magnet for jargon-laden fads, ranging from the harmless to the counterproductive. One of the latest is the enthusiasm surrounding "college readiness for all." On the one hand, what's not to like? We should set high expectations for every child. And a college degree has long offered a path to professional opportunity and affluence.
But does insisting on college readiness for all actually help? I fear not. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with this admirable goal in principle. Indeed, there are individual schools and systems that have had terrific success with a "college for all" mindset. Even so, I have serious reservations when advocates, funders, and policymakers seek to impose this norm across the universe of schools and systems.
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