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[Susan notes: Great use of great John Gardner quote. Would that we now had a secretary of education who did more than mouth soundbites for corporate America.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

We are told that As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short, (Dec. 27) because high graduates' performance on college entrance exams and national tests is disappointing. But we are not told if performance on these tests successfully predicts college success or that scores have declined.

But even if research shows a decline in college readiness, all this means is that high school is not simply college prep. This may be a good thing. We should not be sending the message that college is the only path to career success and life satisfaction.

Nor is universal college good for society. As former Secretary of Health, Education and Labor, John W. Gardner noted: "The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

Stephen Krashen

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