One of the most interesting aspects of working at the New America Foundation is our fellows program, which provides support and an intellectual home for transient and innovative writers, researchers, and policy types. A new crop of fellows arrives every fall and, unvaryingly, they are super-smart and working on really interesting stuff. I always look forward to learning more about what they're working on.
I’m very excited that one of our incoming fellows is Dana Goldstein. She’s a rising star journalist on the education and social policy beat who has written for the American Prospect, the Daily Beast, and more recently the Nation. Her website has become a go-to site for engaged discussion of education policy issues and how they intersect with issues of poverty, access, and accountability. Andrew Sullivan has taken to linking to Dana’s work so you may find yourself on her site through his linking machine or you can just go there yourself.
One of her latest pieces in the Nation focuses on a difficult question: “Should all Kids Go to College?”
You can read the piece here, or hear her talk about it here in podcast form.
When we've written about this topic, we often focus on the benefits of savings for education. For a number of reasons, there appear to be powerful signals sent when children have an account with their name on it. Savings appears to help children learn the basics of financial education and get them to plan for their future. But it begs the question of what they’re preparing for.
Critics of our College Savings Initiative often point out that college is not for everyone. This is true enough if we are only thinking about a four-year liberal arts education or for that matter on focused exclusively on science and engineering. But Dana asks if more can’t be done to diversify meaningful post-secondary educational experiences tailored to the real world. She reports on emerging educational programs that emphasize technical skills rather than the liberal arts. Vocational training programs may have a troubled history but clearly there are upsides for re-tooling them for the 21st century. If we can succeed in doing this, it makes it more plausible that everyone should prepare at an early age to pursue learning well beyond the high-school years.