There are those who believe that Ph.D's are still useful. Others might agree -- but with this gigantic caveat: It's only useful to those who are 100% certain that a life at the research bench is what they want to do.
At one time, "The Three R's" (reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic) were considered the marks of a person who possessed at least a rudimentary education. How about as part of national education reform, we bring back that concept – and update it to include civics, economics, science, and technology? We could call it CRRREST.