Re: "Ford's new budget will hurt students: letter writer," (The Hill Times, April 17, letter to the editor). There is more to the malaise in the education system than funding. We used to have schools that educated people. Now we have a system that just pushes them through. The value of a high school education, or even a university degree, has been so reduced that employers are saying they don't need any educational credentials—they will train people. When I went to university in 1968, most of the educational support came directly from government. But as students, we had to either meet educational goals or be turfed out. This meant that the best students got educated, not just the richest ones. (I was kicked out for a year because I spent too much time doing theatre and playing bridge in second year.) In the United Kingdom, they have just launched a new initiative to restore the importance of mathematics in the education system since this is seen as a key workplace skill, while many of our students drop mathematics as soon as they can. In recent years, parents and governments have forced schools to devalue discipline and downgrade reasonable educational standards. It is worse at the university level, where it has led to large numbers of very unhappy students who really shouldn't be there, trying to cheat their way through instead of grasping the opportunity to learn. As a side effect, the higher support given to universities has led to community colleges converting to universities and abandoning their role of educating skilled workers to support our economy. Parents and students are paying a huge price, both in money and emotional stress, for an 'education' that has diminished value. In the workplace, people are held to rigorous standards. Schools need to do the same, to prepare students for the real world. Tom McElroyProfessor emeritus and senior scholar,York University Toronto, Ont.