Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Should college not be for everyone?

I have a friend who claims that not everyone should be going to college. His point is that students are shuffled, en masse, to University, even when they don't have the motivation, grades, ambition, or skills to be there, and that perhaps they'd be better suited to something occupational or technical.

I can't say I disagree with him completely, but as a proponent of higher education (hey, I work there!), it's hard for me not to think, "Yes, come children, come to college, the bastion of learning and experience that it is. There is room for all!"

I was a motivated student. I am a bit of a nerd. I like school. I'm good at school. Not everyone is, which I have trouble understanding sometimes. I'd hate to narrow opportunities for students, but my friend has a point in that we don't advertise the OT (occupational/technical) programs enough.

For instance, in Virginia, there is a huge shortage in people to fill the needed jobs in nearly all of the health fields (many of whom make a lot more money than I do, and I have a bachelors degree).

I also blame parents. Helicopter parents of this new generation of millenials-and-younger push students to go to the big 4-year school in the sky. Higher education was their ticket to a better life when they were growing up, and they want it for their children.

What do you all think? Are we pushing the wrong people into college? What do we do instead?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I couldn't have said it better myself

This is not a political blog. However, I find that politics and social justice are often intertwined. I have been finding it a painful challenge to explain exactly why I'm so fervent about my political candidate without having the words "polarizing," "divisive", or "bitchy" thrown at me to describe her.

So I was floored when both Gloria Steinhem (a woman I admire) and then Robin Morgan wrote articles in major press outlets summing up exactly what I was thinking.

Robin, wrote “Goodbye To All That”, her "(in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women." She felt so strongly about what was going on in the Presidential Race with Hillary that she was compelled to write a second essay. Here are highlights from it(emphasis mine):

Goodbye to the double standard . . .
—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who’s emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.
—She’s “ambitious” but he shows “fire in the belly.” (Ever had labor pains?)
When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.
—Young political Kennedys—Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.—all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort “See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him.”

Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
--This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?

Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which whites—especially wealthy ones—adore), while she has to pass as male (which both men and women demanded of her, and then found unforgivable). If she were black or he were female we wouldn’t be having such problems, and I for one would be in heaven. But at present such a candidate wouldn’t stand a chance—even if she shared Condi Rice’s Bush-defending politics.

Goodbye, goodbye to . . .
blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanizing like the Kennedy guys—though unlike them, he got reported on). Let’s get real. If he hadn’t campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.
—an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by politics that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience, and skill is actually seen as attractive.

Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn’t bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She’s running to be president of the United States.

Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing they’re not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten thestatus quo), who can’t identify with a woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any age again feeling unworthy, sulking “what if she’s not electable?” or “maybe it’s post-feminism and whoooosh we’re already free.”
Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply. When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, “I could have saved thousands—if only I’d been able to convince them they were slaves.”

Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire. There’s not a woman alive who, if she’s honest, doesn’t recognize what she means. Then HRC got drowned out by campaign experts, Bill, and media’s obsession with everything Bill.

So listen to her voice:

“For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words."--1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing