New York Times, January 8, 1993.
President-elect Bill Clinton is right to make education a top priority. He is wrong in his understanding of what needs fixing. Not one of his main educational policies — increased loan assistance for college students, national educational standards linked to Federal aid and more job retraining — addresses the problems we are facing.
Here are some propositions that Mr. Clinton and Richard W. Riley, his nominee for Secretary of Education, should look into:
Giving qualified students a chance at college is something we already do well. More than three-quarters of the nation’s top students already go to four-year colleges. The number of top students who don’t go to college because of lack of money is minuscule. It is fine to make it possible for every qualified student to go to college, but there is not much room for improvement. If Mr. Clinton’s loan plan succeeds in significantly expanding enrollment, it may well damage university education: campuses will be flooded with still more students who are not ready for college-level material. That this view is elitist does not make it wrong.