In a recent article in the New York Times about the Common Core, I was quoted saying that some kids don’t need to go to college. I was trying to explain to the reporter that the New York Common Core tests used absurdly high standards that resulted in a 70% failure rate. Not every child will make an A, I told her, and we should not fail B and C students.

This was the printed summary of our interview:

“Some critics say the new standards are simply unrealistic. “We’re using a very inappropriate standard that’s way too high,” said Diane Ravitch, an education historian who served in President George W. Bush’s Education Department but has since become an outspoken critic of many education initiatives. “I think there are a lot of kids who are being told that if they don’t go to college that it will ruin their life,” she said. “But maybe they don’t need to go to college.”

I have since heard that my remarks were elitist because everyone should go to college.

So, it is time to clarify what I believe.

Who should go to college? Everyone who wants to.

What prevents them from doing so? The cost of college today puts it out of reach for many students, and those who get a degree spend years paying back their student loans.

Education is a basic human right. Every state should have free community colleges for anyone who wants to go to college. In recent years, states have increasingly shifted the cost of higher education to students, when it should be paid for by taxation.

Does everyone “need” to go to college? No, and not everyone wants to go to college. Some people choose to go several years after high school, and some get on-the-job training.

Last week, a terrific auto mechanic fixed my car. He had not gone to college. He loves his work.

When my refrigerator broke down, two expert mechanics arrived, diagnosed the problem, and fixed it. They were proud of their skill. They were not college graduates.

In my professional life, everyone I interact with has one or several degrees. In my real life, where things break down and someone has to do work that is essential to my daily life, many–most–do not have a diploma. Should they? That should be their choice, not my compulsion.

In my ideal world, higher education would be tuition-free for those who can’t afford it. Then everyone who wants to go to a college would not be kept out by high tuition.

So to those who want a higher rate of college attendance and participation, I say “demand tuition-free colleges, open to all.”