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.
UPDATE: It turns out Duncan has been using this line since at least 2010. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, he said:
Just as troubling, about one in four -- about 25 percent -- of high school students in the United States drops out or fails to graduate on time. That's almost 1 million students each year leaving our schools for the streets. That is economically unsustainable and is morally unacceptable. As all of you know, high school dropouts today are basically condemned to poverty and social failure.
Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.