NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — There was one surprising truth about a college education heard quite often in Philadelphia's working class neighborhoods during America's bicentennial year. It was that most college graduates are not making as much as those who learned a trade - and a college education cost a lot more.

There was some truth to that then and there still is some truth to this now.

The difference is that now this truth is a major reason there is a cacophony of voices calling for reform of the higher education system. Indeed, everybody is getting into the act. It is even a bipartisan effort - although some Democrats seem content on training their guns at for-profit institutions only, most are going after higher education institutions in general. Reforming higher education will be a major political issue for this election year.

One reformer is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla). He is proposing a series of reforms involving how education is obtained and how it is paid.

One of these reforms concerns how college degrees should be earned. Rubio feels that since a bachelor's degree is merely a collection of courses that is essentially certified by an institution in the awarding of a degree - why not utilize the whole panoply of learning? He believes that since people learn from so many different sources people should get credit for learning from whatever source.

This way one can get credit, for example, from work experience, online courses, proficiency exams, etc., Rubio wants to create a national platform that grants certification for these courses. So Congress would create a federal board that would certify free online courses as transferrable for college credit.

Accreditation by industry is another method being considered by Rubio. For example, the software industry can establish accreditation standards for a combination of experience, education, training, and proficiency that will accredit one as a certified software engineer. One who meets these standards will have the same status as a college graduate.

During an interview with former Secretary of Education turned radio talk show host Bill Bennett on the February 12 edition of Bennett's Morning in America radio show, Rubio delved into the importance of vocational training.

"I met with business leaders who said there is a shortage of welders," Rubio told Bennett. He went on to say that vocational education was stigmatized.

"If your shirt gets dirty, it is a bad job," is a discredited notion said Rubio. He thinks there are plenty of excellent jobs waiting for people as plumbers, carpenters, skilled factory workers that pay more than many jobs available for people with college degrees.

Bennett chimed in that there is not outsourcing of plumbing jobs and that there is a special place in hell for those who demean blue collar work.