Culture > Q&A

Disparate impact

"Disparate impact" Continued...

Issue: "Tidings of discomfort and joy," Dec. 28, 2013

High schools should accommodate Popular Mechanics people. Not everybody is going to college. Our colleges are 57 percent female, and 62 percent of master’s degrees last year and the year before went to females. Women have surpassed men now even in getting Ph.Ds. To survive in the new economy you need education beyond high school, so we should keep up with the Europeans: They’re offering in their high schools career and technical training. 

Aviation High School in Queens, New York, is doing some things right. It has more than 2,000 kids in this gritty part of Queens. I thought, “This can’t be a high school because it looks like a factory.” I went inside and thought I was in the wrong place because it was so quiet: These kids weren’t merely interested, they were enthralled. They have academics half the day, and they have to get through those classes to spend the other half of the day tinkering with an airplane that’s parked out in the parking lot, or taking courses in aviation. 

Overwhelmingly boys, I suspect. The school’s 87 percent male. I met some girls there: They’re fabulous, and they know they’re different. Many of the kids come from struggling, urban communities, mostly Hispanic, black, and Asian. It has one of the highest graduation and college matriculation rates. They move on to fantastic careers. This should be a model for other parts of the country, and it’s not just me saying this. At a recent Harvard University graduate school conference called “Pathways to Prosperity,” educational leaders from all over the world agreed that our high schools should be partly career training that offers pathways into good jobs.

But young men and women might have different job desires. The girls tend to go into early childhood education. Cosmetology is popular, as well as various medical professions. The boys are in welding, automotive repair, and computer technology disproportionately. Some women’s groups in Washington consider it inequitable that not as many girls show up for welding and refrigeration and trucking. I try to introduce a little common sense. Yes, introduce the girls to these fields, because you will make more money if you’re a metallurgist or an aviation mechanic than you will as an early childhood educator. Let the young women know that, but don’t have a quota system.

Watch Marvin Olasky’s complete interview with Christina Hoff Sommers:

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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