You asked for people to be based on merit, and now you don't answer a question...
Are you saying that the entrance requirements for education be based upon the best, regardless of race, religion, creed, social strata, and income?
I guess the short answer is a system should be merit based, but merit may be defined differently..
I'll link here to an interesting study on the Danish system. The authors were testing this notion:
In most countries, no matter the type of welfare regime, there continues to be a
political consensus on the importance of striving for equality of access to education.
The chief and most important challenge in this endeavor has been posed by the fact
that the further up in the educational hierarchy we move the more socially exclusive
In this paper we investigate access to university institutions in Denmark
– an interesting case, comparatively, because there are no tuition fees in higher
education and because students are automatically granted relatively generous
government subsidies for the stipulated time of the higher education programs (in
2011: 740 Euros per month for the duration of the program studied, with the
possibility of one additional grant year). As is the case in most other countries, the
number of students attending university education in Denmark has multiplied tenfold
over the last 60 years (from approx. 13,000 to 120,000 in 2011), and the number of
university study places available per 20-year-old has more than doubled since 1979.
http://vbn.aau.dk/files/71338299/Final_ ... _11_12.pdf
Today it is expected that 54% of all young people in Denmark will complete a higher
education degree course (compared to an OECD average of about 40%) (OECD,
2010, p. 58). Five per cent will graduate from business academies (short cycle
programs), 25% from university colleges (medium cycle programs primarily for
teachers, nurses, child care or social workers) and 24% from university institutions
(long cycle courses with a range of traditional and professional programs). It is
against this background that we ask: What does such a massive increase in study
places mean for the social distribution of students in the various fields of study and
university institutions? Do certain fields of study and institutions remain exclusively
for those class fractions endowed with the resources needed to enter into these
Their findings are that, even in a system that removes most of the obstacles to attaining higher education; socialization as a child leads to "streaming". Simply put; a child from a blue collar family will be drawn to work in blue collar occupations. ...
So, in the US, where poverty is greater than in a nation like Denmark, and where cultural groups by race and language also exist more greatly than less diverse nations and more diverse nations (Canada), you're going to expect that social "streaming" will lead some to endeavors that aren't university. So even if you removed all financial obstacles to secondary education, even then University wouldn't reflect the demographic make up of the US.
But overall people will find the social class and occupation that best meets their needs and for which they are best qualified.