You are right, programming should be a class that schools include in their K-12 curriculum. If everything around us is managed through technolgy, we as users have to be able to know how these machines communicate. Programming changes that way you view devices and the ever changing world around us. I think HourofCode and other movements are doing a great job getting attention on this matter.
To add to your point on higher education; well, the entire university system needs a new way to give us students affordable education. It is extremely hard to continue to want to pursue higher education if it means loads of debts, and even now when a diploma does not assure us a job.