Document Type

Opinion

Publication Date

8-6-2017

Department

Civil War Era Studies

Abstract

Donald J. Trump has a degree from an Ivy League university—my alma mater, in fact—but he is not one of the Ivies’ admirers. “We must embrace new and effective job-training approaches, including online courses, high school curricula, and private-sector investment that prepare people for trade, manufacturing, technology and other really well-paying jobs and careers,” the president declared in March. “These kinds of options can be a positive alternative to a four-year degree.”

If ever an issue seemed assured of bipartisan support, you’d think it would be an initiative that helps connect workers with work. But up went the howls of injury anyway. “I’m worried that the idea of vocational education has become so popular,” wrote David Leonhardt of the New York Times. “We shouldn’t be promoting vocational education at the expense of general education.” Instead, “expanding the number of four-year college graduates also deserves to be a national priority.”

Maybe. Mr. Leonhardt is pitting vocational education against the ideals of higher education—independence of thought, breadth of knowledge and understanding. It’s not hard to see how important these ideals are to a democracy, in which political sovereignty lies with the people at large. If the people are ignorant or fixed only on grubbing for a living, they may make awful—and irreversible—mistakes. [excerpt]

Version

Version of Record

Required Publisher's Statement

The original article can be found on the publisher's website: https://www.wsj.com/articles/college-is-trade-school-for-the-elite-1502051874

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