Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, on Air Force One en route to New York for the president's education bus tour, had some strong words to say about the prospects of those who don't graduate from high school, and also about those who complete high school but do not go on to college. While answering a question about the cost of college and whether the administration might be exaggerating those costs, Duncan said [emphasis added]:
But, again, if you look at polls of the public -- this isn't me -- if you look at polls, the vast -- it’s like two-thirds of the American public think college is for the wealthy today. There is something dramatically wrong with that picture. Some form of higher education -- four-year universities, two-year community colleges, trade, technical vocation training -- some form of higher education training has to be the goal for every single young person in this country.
Again, we know the long-term economic benefits, dividends are just tremendous -- more than doubling long-term salaries. So if you drop out of high school today, you’re basically condemned to poverty and social failure. There are no good jobs out there. If you have a high school diploma, there’s almost nothing for you. College has to be the goal, has to be the aspiration.