The Democratic Presidential candidates faced off in New Hampshire last week. It’s an entertaining debate if you have the time to watch it. But there were also some snippets about education that I thought neatly illustrated the differences in educational aspirations for working class Americans.Â Here’s Chris Dodd and John Edwards.
Chris Dodd: This young man is finishing high school. He’s presumably going to go on to higher education. I hope you are.
John Edwards: College for everyone is something we’ve actually, Elizabeth and I, put in place in eastern North Carolina, in a small community in eastern North Carolina, and the idea is really simple. The idea is, if a kid graduates from high school qualified to be in college and they commit to work when they’re there at least 10 hours a week, their tuition and books are paid for. And the idea is, we want to make it simple for kids to go to college. They have to work for it. We don’t just give it to them. And then, on top of that, so many young people are faced with this crushing burden of debt when they graduate from college. I think it’s something we shouldn’t just be doing — we’ve done this privately in this small area of eastern North Carolina…
It used to be the case that Americans wereÂ far better educated than Australians. The statistical gap has closed a lot now. But the aspiration gap still remains surprisingly large.