Call it low-brow or populist if you wish, but Rick Santorum took aim at Barack Obama this weekend in the arena of education and reminded the president of one aspect of social development which often gets lost in the shuffle. While an admirable goal and extremely important under the right circumstances, not every high school student will wind up going to college. And for those who don’t, not all of them are “losers” in any way shape or form. Roll 212.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum expanded his populist message into education Saturday, accusing President Barack Obama and others of “snobbery” for pushing all kids to go to college.

“We are leaving so many children behind,” Mr. Santorum said at a forum sponsored by the Atlantic, the National Journal and Saint Anselm College. “They’re not ready to go to [college.] They don’t want to go to college. They don’t need to go to college. I was so outraged that the President of the United States [said] every student should go to college.”

“Who are you to say that every child in America goes” to college, he continued. “I have seven kids. Maybe they’ll all go to college. But if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto mechanic, good for him! That’s a good-paying job.”

This is a theme we’ve covered here before, such as our story about good jobs going unfilled, and I always try to be careful about how we handle it. A college education is, in and of itself, obviously not a bad thing. On average, workers with a college degree earn more money and have a lower rate of unemployment than those with only a high school diploma. But those figures don’t tell the entire story by a long shot.

Rick Santorum is correct here. While many people with less education go on to face problematic situations, that doesn’t cover nearly all of them. Some go from high school directly into the military and find rewarding careers there, or learn valuable trade skills which they take to good paying jobs in civilian life afterward. Others go to trade schools or apprenticeship programs, with the opportunity to earn very significant incomes in fields like heating and air conditioning, construction trades, plumbing and more.

This isn’t a one size fits all world. Insinuating that every student must go to college or be seen as some sort of lesser individual is snobbish, elitist, and any other similar term you’d care to apply. President Obama should take time out to read Matthew B. Crawford’s book, Shop Class as Soulcraft. Our schools need to prepare students for life, in addition to gearing them up for college. Some of them may profit more from shop class than a liberal arts progression. I’m sure Santorum will catch some flack for these comments on the campaign trail, but I found his remarks refreshing.