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Compulsory Education Is Topic in Carnival of Education

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Joanne Jacobs and Robert Pondiscio over at Core Knowledge blog are both skeptical about the practicality of former New York City schools Chancellor Harold Levy's proposal that compulsory schooling should include one year of postsecondary education. If you missed their posts this week, you have another chance to read them as part of this week's Carnival of Education, a collection of posts by education bloggers.

Pondiscio writes: "College entrance is still something largely driven by interest and merit. Might that have something to do with the generally sound state of U.S. higher ed and the relatively poor state of our K-12 system?"

Jacobs writes: "There are people for whom K-12 schooling isn’t working. More of the same isn’t likely to work any better."

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The important aspect of this idea is not the word "Compulsory" but the word "free". There are a lot of high school students who would accept advanced education be it a start to college or job skill training if it did not cost money (often a great deal of money). A few hundred dollars in cost for community college does not seem like a lot if one were to think about it rationally, however, as psychological economics has shown us lately, people are anything but fully rational.

All it would take is free education and a few hundred dollars in incentives and students would be pursuing advanced training with much greater enthusiasm on their own, no mandate required. Even a minor investment like a dollar a day for taking classes would make a huge difference in participation.

The other choice, a mandate, doesn't help like incentives do. After all high school is mandatory and yet only 70% of students finish. Mandating compliance would be even harder once students finished high school and were 18 or 19 unless the age of majority was changed. There are very few things an "adult" can be compelled to do, the legal ramifications alone would be a road block, hence the incentives approach.

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