Your High School Diploma is Worthless and Here’s the Reason Why?

When a high school student graduated in 1965, there was a reasonable expectation that they could find work. Not minimum wage, menial and entry level work, but a real job that had a future.

In essence, you were starting from the bottom, but there was a mindset. “From the mailroom,” which meant that there was Upward mobility in your career.

Fast forward to 2021. If you graduate from high school today, the likelihood of you finding that same quality job is virtually impossible.

But here’s a secret, the government and the media don’t want to tell you. Shhhh! This is going to make them mad.

The reason your high school diploma is worthless is not because of the gig economy, or jobs being outsourced overseas , or the even automation. Unfortunately, the reason is much worse than those things put together.

The real reason your high school diploma is worthless is because the education you spent four years learning is worthless. But it’s not fair to just place labels on high schools without explaining what any of this means. So if you really want to take a short deep dive into the world of education, strap in, because we are about to ride a roller coaster of inadequacy and inefficiency.

What is the purpose of K12 School?

Most people don’t think about this question because there is an assumption in America that the people in charge of our educational system, the US Education Secretary, the thousands of Boards of Education and Superintendents think about this every single day.

The fact is they don’t.

The purpose of K12 school is to prepare kids for the future. Now, that sounds simple, but in order to meet that purpose, it takes a massive amount of coordination, future planning and money to make that purpose come alive and be real and present in K12 schools across the country.

Here’s where schools fail!

They are not preparing kids for the future, they are only teaching kids about the past. And worse, they are teaching kids learning strategies and skills that worked in the 20th Century and no longer apply to the 21st Century.

The Liberal Arts Background

For 100 years, students received what was termed the “liberal arts” education. Because it’s been used for so long and ALL of us were immersed in it when we went to school, we naturally think of it as the ONLY way to learn. But it’s not!

There are other learning models our K12 schools could use. For instance, K12 schools could adopt the 21st Century curriculum model, which has been fully researched and proven to be more effective for kids in the 21st Century.

Don’t take my word for it, just look up the term 21st Century curriculum. One of the leading researchers in this model is Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, who has written several books on the subject as well as a highly respected Educational Leader around the globe. She has been leading the charge to update school curriculum for the last 20 years.

Here’s why a Liberal Arts education fails!

Liberal arts is synonymous with well-rounded. But that’s not what liberal arts actually means. A liberal arts education takes every subject and boils them down into an overview course. When you take a liberal arts English class, you are getting the broad strokes, what some people might call the “highlights” of the subject area.

That’s the same for every course in liberal arts. If you take a liberal arts math class, you are just learning the main concepts. You are not going deeper, students are not being pushed to their maximum potential. Liberal arts is an easy way to teach millions of kids without rocking the boat.

Why the 21st Century is Different than the 20th Century?

A liberal arts background was adequate in the 20th Century because most Americans had zero access to information, thus learning more information in K12 school gave you an edge on other workers.

The edge was “knowing” more — that’s all.

But in the 21st Century, everyone has access to all recorded information. That’s right, the internet has given every person with a smart phone the ability to do a search for any question in 2.4 seconds.

In fact, schools see student’s access to the internet as a problem. Instead of embracing the technology, they want to pretend it does not exist. But that’s because schools are using a liberal arts mindset. When the goal of liberal arts is to teach content, the internet allows students to CHEAT!!

But that’s where schools are wrong.

K12 schools, school leaders and teachers need to wake up and start living in the 21st Century. The internet is not a bad thing, in fact, it allows teachers to teach 21st Century skills. The goal should no longer be about “knowing” content, but how to find the answers to questions using technology.

At the core of a 21st Century education is teaching students how to use the internet to do research — REAL RESEARCH!

not know what to do about students access to the internet.

It’s a concept that I started looking at in 2010, and as a Principal and Superintendent in education, I was in the position to make the changes necessary to make that high school diploma more valuable.

But I hit one major obstacle: Yes, there is something BLOCKING schools from making high school diplomas more valuable. Want to know what that thing is? That major hurdle we must overcome?

I was invited to speak at a Virtual Summit for the educator group Teachers for Good Trouble. Their mission is to end Standardized Testing during the Pandemic because the US spends $1.7 billion on tests and that money could be used for better purposes. In addition, the test scores are all invalid because standardized testing REQUIRES standardized conditions.

And in case you haven’t noticed, school districts are in-person, hybrid and remote — therefore there is no STANDARD to test. It’s a real problem during a Pandemic and I support Teachers for Good Trouble in their mission to #stopthetest.

If you watched the video above, you heard me speak about a 22nd Century Curriculum. And that is the obstacle that all students, teachers and schools face in 2020. We are currently stuck in a 19th Century Curriculum model.

And the public and the media have been misled by stories and articles that over-assume the truth about what goes on in schools. We were told for the last 20 years that schools were upgraded to 21st Century schools, but that isn’t actually what happened.

We upgraded the hardware of schools. Yes, schools are 21st Century capable. They are 21st Century ready — but with a 19th Century Curriculum, it is stifling the outcomes of the American educational system. That is the reason why a high school diploma is worthless.

That’s also the underlying reason why I support Teachers for Good Trouble. If a student gets a perfect score on a standardized test, all it tells us is that student is 100% prepared for the 19th Century.

There is no data-driven way to make 19th Century theories and information work in the 21st Century. We keep loading our students brains up with obsolete ideas and information, and we test them on old and obsolete ideas and information — AND worse — we are upset that kids in 2020 can’t score well on a Standardized Test that only tests 19th Century old ideas and information.

Who cares? Really? Who Cares?

A 19th Century education cares if students know about who invented the cotton gin. It’s an actual test question. It’s in the 19th Century Curriculum. Yes, the COTTON GIN!

Who cares?

So in 2010, when I became an administrator in my building, I decided to start looking at making a high school diploma more valuable. Could I overcome this ancient 19th Century Curriculum?

And the answer was hopeful! Yes, I could overcome some of it, but not all of it. There are so many legal mandates that are handcuffed to this obsolete 19th Century Curriculum that it was impossible to go around ALL of it.

But here’s what I was able to accomplish — since this is the recipe for the future.

And it’s also one of the key missions for my consulting firm, Education Development Institute. There are Five Core Areas in the 22nd Century Curriculum. These five core areas will help students succeed into the future.

And if you were wondering why I keep referring to it as the 22nd Century Curriculum, it’s because students in Kindergarten today will be alive at the turn of the NEXT Century. Yes, think about that.

Education is supposed to prepare students for the FUTURE. Not the Past, and not the Present. Kids grow up. Kids get older. And Kids need to be prepared for THEIR future. That means looking ahead, far ahead into the future.

Shouldn’t America’s schools be 100 years ahead of the curve? Instead of 200 years behind?

Here are the Five Core Areas of the 22nd Century Curriculum:

  1. Collaborative Learning
  2. Quick Decision-Making Skills
  3. Multi-Communication Skills
  4. Master Creative Skills
  5. Develop Understanding of “The Pursuit of Happiness”

If you want to know more — read my Bio.



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Professor Schwartz

Professor Schwartz

Former Superintendent | Ed Consultant | Speaker/Author — Go to my homepage at