The article is based on a book by two Harvard economists, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, entitled The Race Between Education and Technology. Their thesis is the following:
The economy continually demands higher-level skills from workers, they argue, and for most of the 20th century the U.S. workforce kept up. (snip) Then, in the 1970s, America's level of education stopped rising. The high school graduation rate peaked at 77% in 1969 and has since dropped to about 69%; college rates, too, stopped rising. The economy kept demanding more workers with advanced skills, but we stopped producing more. (snip) Result: The minority of workers with advancing skills became more valuable, while the broad middle got flat or even falling pay.Education stopped keeping up with workplace requirements during the Vietnam protest era. Public high schools in the U.S. stopped insisting that students learn or leave. Educators lost their sense of moral authority, their willingness to demand student performance. Since that time our high schools have been a sad travesty of what they once were.