Here’s a short passage that I bet just about everyone would find surprising:

President Obama has set a noble goal of having the United States lead the world in college graduation rates by 2020. It is an aim that will empower individuals and strengthen the country as a whole, but it certainly won’t be easy. Our current graduation rates are far behind our international competitors and we will be hard pressed to meet our own college-educated workforce capacity by the end of the decade.

It’s from a student advocacy group called Education is a Right: “We Need Vigilance in the Higher Education Community”. What? The U.S., the most powerful nation in the world, isn’t the leader in graduation rates? Nope. The piece is remarkable in other ways, too, particularly in the way that it links for-profit education, socioeconomic class, and government funding.

I just hope that our administrators realize that being cautious in recruitment, and allowing a clear picture of defaults and job placement rates to emerge, can only help us reach out beyond the class boundaries of traditional education. I also wish Education is a Right would be just as concerned with employment practices in all of higher education, but that’s a story for another day.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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