If you think of current behavior as an advance accommodation to what is on the way, some things make sense that otherwise are mysterious. Why, at the very moment that we are talking obsessively about academic "excellence" and leaving no child behind, are we turning our public schools into factories of rote learning and multiple-choice testing, as if learning how to read and count were some huge accomplishment? Well, if your fate is to be a supermarket checker--and that's a "good job" these days--you won't be needing Roman history or art or calculus. By the same token, cutting state university budgets, burdening students with debt and turning college into a kind of middle-management trade school makes sense, if shrinking opportunities for the professional elite lie ahead. Why create more competition for the graduates of the Ivy League?
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