Friday, April 28, 2006

A Dream Deferred (Restart)

So, I’m scanning my regular newswire and I came across Dr. Helen's latest post. It is an interview with Mike Lasalle, who runs a website called Mens News Daily. The parts of the interview I find interesting are about men’s run-ins with the legal system (especially regarding divorce) and the parts about male – female relationships as it relates to marriage and companionship. As a single guy, I enjoy reading about those things.

But then comes the part where I start rolling my eyes. This part always has to do with the ‘education gap’ between men and women. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that such a gap does not exist - I know it does and that gap is indeed a problem. But the reasons for it that are repeated over and over and over again on the right side of the blogosphere just smack of politicizing an issue that isn’t really political. It is like listening to conspiracy theories. “The feminists!!” “The Politically Correct!!” “The Echo Chamber!!” “The Lack of Academic Freedom!!” They exclaim.

Fewer men are going to college because the fast track to education is reserved for the 'disadvantaged' sex - women. Men are thus squeezed to fit the new agenda, thereby themselves becoming a disadvantaged underclass: college graduation rates for men are fast approaching a lopsided 40% compared to women. Title IX is a clear example of gender-conscious social engineering.”
(emphasis added by me -HR)

Isn’t that type of behavior supposed to be a ‘whiny liberal’ attitude? I thought conservatism meant standing up for yourself and not blaming others for setbacks. I thought conservatism was about doing it smarter and better than the other guy (or girl).

Many fellas I know who didn’t go or didn’t finish college have a higher earning income than I do. Right now, the guys I know who are in college are mostly going back to school or going to school for the first time years and years after graduating from high school. They all earn serious money, and many of them have families. They aren’t traditional students and they aren’t going to traditional schools. Unlike many high school grads, they actually appreciate the college education for its potential, and have a much better idea what they want their degree to be in. They have focus, they have drive, and the things that are more burdensome to them than the political philosophies of instructors are the redundant high school mentality of the ‘General Studies’ sections of their academic programs.

Maybe I’m just an idealist, but BIO 1101 + Lab seems a little more important than “oh, my instructor voted for Kerry.”

These men are working on their educations later because they had other priorities back in the day that had nothing to do with the political agendas of the academic class – they just didn’t have the cash or the inclination to take 4 years off from earning real money. I call this a ‘deferred reward’ that college promises, and I think it is a much bigger problem than feminism ever could be.

The basis of the 'Deferred Reward' philosophy is the two options men face when they complete high school 1) Get paid for the work you do, or 2) pay other people to complain about the work you do. I think the disparity in those two options is the thing keeping men from going to college. I do not think men are choosing not to go to college based on the political philosophies of their professors, as some conservative pundits would suggest.

(Note: This is a slightly edited version of an earlier post. It has been edited so some readers can read the point behind the whole thing: "conservatives think you are the problem, liberals, and you aren't defending yourselves intelligently." Thank you for reading, HR)


Meredith said...

Or maybe the younger men these days complain too much.

patsbrother said...

First, what the hell kind of classes have you people been taking? I've only had The Biased teacher in two courses in college.

One taught Asian American Literature & Film (Honors Engl 102) instructor. The class was not so much about literature or film so much as it was Asian people (dude brought his Korean wife in for show-and-tell: no joke).

The other, ironically, was the instructor I took only after Pat highly recommended him. Which is why I'm glad I don't listen too often. Native American History 1840 to the present, also the only class Pat and I were both in since a tennis clinic back in the 80s. The strange, unengaged, cross-armed disdain for the world this professor exuded was amazing.

Second, and somewhat more to the string here: I have one way to fix the disparity in the male/female ratio in college. Much like I advocate shielding girls from the fact their families have any money whatsoever until they are at least sixteen (because nothing is more petulant than a privileged/spoiled twelve-year-old), I advocate hiding professional sports from boys until they attain a similar age.

How many times have I heard "I just gonna play pro-ball", and how often is that a viable career tract? Let them go out and play sports lacking the idea they might ever get paid for it and, when off the field, they might actually realize a basic education is the most advantageous skill they can acquire. If pro atheletes don't want to have to be role models, take that ability away from them, take kids away from the pro games, and see how that affects pro salaries. Maybe if Schmo wasn't making 87 gabillion dollars for being an asshole, maybe more men would look at salary+benefits as a good thing earlier on and find their direction towards that, which, statistically, includes college.

petallic said...

Now PB, you know full well that it's not just GIRLS you want shielded from their wealth. We've had that discussion a dozen times, and you've never specified girls, so why the shift now? Just for parallelism?

I'm with Meredith on this one. They need to shut their whining and pick up the slack. We women can't do this thing alone.

petallic said...

And Laddi, referring to your comment on the previous version of this thread, yes, each year group is different. Each graduating class tends to perform roughly the same across the board (i.e. this year's class may mostly go to college, but next year's class may mostly go to jail). This is unfortunately true. Last year, our graduating seniors won close to 5 million in scholarships. This year we've barely crested 2 million. We have a large number of seniors this year who've been arrested for drug possession and various other charges, but who are still being recruited by small schools willing to tolerate their antics for their talent on the court. Last year's athlete scholars were much more on the up-and-up.

But I still say figure out what the victors are doing and imitate them, even if you have to look in a different year group or social clique...or outside of your entire box.

dadvocate said...

I do believe there is a bias against traditional masculinity in education at all levels. Schools seem less tolerant of boys' boyish behaviors in K-12 than when I was in school in ancient times. In response to a post at DrHelen, I created this table at It shows just how much more one with a college degree makes. In other explorations at, I also found that white males graduate from high school at a lower rate than black males. Hmm.

But from what I see, I also think the importance of a college education isn't stressed enough by parents. Of course, some aren't suited for college but those who are capable should at least give it a shot.

On the other hand, I know several people more successful than myself who never completed college. Maybe, we expect too many people to go to college. Maybe part of the problem is not that too few men are going to colleg but that too many people are going to college in general. Maybe it's that too many women are going to college in greater numbers than men.

We need people who work in factories, on farms, be auto mechanics, and to fill other jobs that don't require a college degree. Maybe we need to refocus our educational directives.

Just kidding. We all know that it's the fault of feminsits and liberals.

petallic said...

"Maybe we need to refocus our educational directives."

By doing what, Dadvocate? Incorporating vocational classes? We've done that. Making high schools "comprehensive"? Done, and subsequently undone in most high schools.

My school still has Ag, Ag Mechanics, Horticulture, Drafting, Small Engine Repair, various incarnations of carpentry classes, Small Animal Veterinary, Cosmetology, and Health Occupations. We staffed out Auto Mechanics last year, but only because it's nearly impossible for a public high school to afford the technology to keep up with modern automobiles, not to mention that every Auto Mechanics teacher I've ever worked with was a sketchy character. This last one ran away with a girl who just graduated after carrying on a year-long affair. Not to mention that a good mechanic can make far more money working than teaching.

All of our vocational classes are award-winning programs. Our FFA program is serious business; we have kids who show cows, horses, and sheep at the state level. Every year they make a bundle in fundraising by slaughtering their own pigs, chickens, and sheep. I can get fresh eggs any day of the school year I want. Every year we graduate dozens of young women (and a few guys) who are only a few college credits shy of entering the Nursing profession.

Is that enough? I say no.

Is college for every child? Of course not. Is the workforce for every child? No.

I do believe there is a bias against traditional masculinity in education at all levels. Schools seem less tolerant of boys' boyish behaviors in K-12 than when I was in school in ancient times.

Really? 'Cause last I checked football and other male sports still reigned supreme. What kind of behavior are you wishing tolerated?

Dante said...

I think the biggest problem with persuading students to put academics over sports is that most teachers and advisors just tell the student that they can't make it as a pro athlete instead of really discussing their options like they would any other possible career choice. Being a pro is certainly possible for a good enough athlete but depending on the sport, most likely they'll end up on a farm team making $20k per year. Kids going into business understand that buisness man doesn't equal executive. Maybe it's time we let athletes know that "pro" doesn't mean NFL superstar. It could mean CFL, IFL, or arena player earning $500 per game. It could also mean NFL Practice Squad earning $40,000 to $80,000 per year (last I looked). Taking a student seriously and explaining the options is a lot better approach than completely brushing aside their dreams.

I actually know a guy from high school who is a professional athlete. He makes $24k per year for a farm league in the midwest last I heard but I've know people to take less money than that for a job they love.

"But I still say figure out what the victors are doing and imitate them, even if you have to look in a different year group or social clique...or outside of your entire box."

And I still have to agree.

dadvocate said...

Petallic - Are you the teacher? I remember someone here is. If so, I hope you're not that hostile in the classroom.

By focus, I mean that right now for many anything below college is unacceptable. This is not always reasonable or necessary. Adding programs, etc. is not the point. That fewer people, male and female, may really need to go to college is the point.

I was thinking stricly about the classroom, not sports. Sure there are plenty of athletlics for males. While male athletes are cheered on the field they are often denigrated otherwise. I've heard the "dumb jock" comment many times even though my IQ is in the top 1-2%.

Also, judging from what I've watched my 17 year old son go through in basketball, I'm don't believe it's been that positive of an experience for him or many of this teammates.

Schools don't value athletes as much as they value the glory they bring the school. O.J. Mayo, the top high schoo basketball player in the country, lead North College Hills High School to its second consecutive state championship. Then he was suspended for misbehavior of some sort. I bet he misbehaved before the championship game. He was originally suspended for one game, the semi-final and then brought back for the championship.

My 4th grade daughter now plays basketball. Seeing how differently the girls are treated from the boys is like night and day. The boys were screamed and yelled at almost constantly. The worst I've seen a coach talk to a girl would have been a kind word of encouragement to the boys.

Schools seem harsher on misbehavior which seems more common among boys. Plus, phys ed, recess and such activities that allow boys a physical outlet are being decreased or cut out in many schools.

petallic said...

But...but...but...Dadvocate, I was agreeeeeeeeing with you. Hostility was never an intended tone. The only quip I meant to be as sarcastic was the one about sports. (Damn written word and its difficulties with tone.)

Notice I said, "Is that enough? I say no." I was agreeing with you. And I still agree with you. We in schools are expecting too many people to go to college, and we are not fully appreciating the respectability of the working class and the people in it.

Patrick Armstrong said...

I'm not going to speak directly to the men in college / should everyone go to college debate just yet. I'm going to try and get to the root of this multi faceted problem within American education.

Let me say that I think that when conservative punidtry (like Horowitz) places the blame of college demographics on the political leanings of academia, it is a political spin on a real problem. They are tapping into widespread (and not unwarranted) displeasure with the American education system at the level of public higher education.

Public higher education is paid for by the taxpayer. Every time UGA increases its in-state tuition, take the difference and triple it; that is the increase per student that the taxpayers shoulder. The problem with higher education isn't primarily political (left vs right), it is primarily economic.

It is well worth it that we should 'pay in' to public higher education, because the benefit far outpaces the cost. Not many people touch on this point out of fear they will be labeled anti-education. However, I believe that we are not getting as good a return on our investment that we should be getting.

When many students begin college, they have to take two semesters of English (ENG 101 and ENG 102). The student is responsible for a certain amount, and the taxpayers are responsible for (approximately) triple that amount in the case of public universities. When that becomes inefficient is when those two English classes are the exact same English classes that student took in high school for the previous two years, with (some) different books to preserve the illusion of advancement in level. It becomes political when these inefficient classes are taught by wildly liberal graduate students who feel the need to prosthelytize the iconoclasm of the left onto their students.

That is a waste of time and money on both the part of the student and the taxpayer. This creates a great deal of frustration both with students and taxpayers. The easiest way to parry this frustration into politcal capital is to parade the craziest professors in front of the media, and that is what conservatives are doing and doing well. They are able to do this because liberals seem to respond to any criticism of education in a knee-jerk fashion instead of looking deep into the issue and figuring out why the frustration is there in the first place.

petallic said...

I've heard the "dumb jock" comment many times even though my IQ is in the top 1-2%.

This stereotype has decreased in recent years due to the No Pass/No Play rule. My athletes (girls and boys) are some of my best students.

Schools seem harsher on misbehavior which seems more common among boys.
And why is misbehavior more common among boys? And is the answer to that question the same answer to the question, why do so many more girls go to college than boys?