Diploma gap widens between rich, poor

Fifty-four percent of high-income students and 9 percent of low-income students complete a college degree, concludes a new study. The diploma gap has widened in 20 years, primarily because the daughters of affluent families are doing very, very well in school.

CC presidents earn $167K — more for minorities

Community college presidents average $167,000 in base pay, but blacks and Hispanics earn more, probably because they’re more likely to run urban campuses, which offer higher pay. Women earn slightly more than men in base pay, slightly less in total compensation.

In search of STEM students

Universities are turning to community colleges in the search for potential STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students who are black, Hispanic and/or female.

Where are the college men?

Where are the college men? Female high-school students are more likely to aspire to a college degree, enroll and graduate than their male classmates. That’s true on leafy liberal arts campuses — and even more true at community colleges, which provide affordable job training.

Men are “conspicuously absent” on the campus of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, writes Hanna Rosin in The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. Although the college president tries to “recruit more boys,” 70 percent of MCC students are female. Many are single mothers.

Casual sex and the single college girl

Young single women are more educated and successful than the men they “hook up” with, writes Hanna Rosin in Boys on the Side, an Atlantic teaser for her new book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. “Sexual freedom—the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career” makes it all possible, writes Rosin.

For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.

About three-quarters of college women “visit” the hookup culture, often during freshman year, Rosin admits. They experiment — without shame — and move on.

In 2004, sociologists Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton began studying the “sexual careers” of women living in a “party dorm” at a state university in the Midwest. For middle- and upper-middle-class students, hookups delayed a serious relationship that might interfere with their career plans.

“The ambitious women calculate that having a relationship would be like a four-credit class, and they don’t always have time for it, so instead they opt for a lighter hookup,” Armstrong told (Rosin).

. . . Almost all of the college women Armstrong and Hamilton interviewed assumed they would get married, and were looking forward to it. 

Of course, they may have to marry a less-educated man. Some of the women quoted in the book assume that they’ll be high flyers while their husbands stay home with the kids. 

While the women-love-hookups thing is mostly hype, the diminishing percentage of college-educated men is troubling. Women are outpacing men in higher education around the world: Iranian women are doing so well, the mullahs have created 77 all-male majors.

My daughter, a literary agent, gave me an advance copy of The End of Men. I said, “But I like men!” I’d hate to see women turn into cold-hearted careerists and men into beer-chugging babysitters.

Title IX in science: Quotas for men?

In its zeal for gender balance in science, technology engineering and math courses, the Education Department could impose quotas on male STEM students by 2013, warns Hans Bader, who once worked for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The White House has promised new Title IX guidelines in STEM fields.

To comply with Title IX, colleges have eliminated men’s sports teams to create a gender balance. “Title IX isn’t just about sports,” President Obama wrote in Newsweek. It’s also about “inequality in math and science education” and “a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it.”

By the Title IX model in sports, that means if 60 percent of undergrads are women — common in many colleges and universities — then 60 percent of engineering and physics students must be female.

Gender disparities in college majors reflect the “differing preferences of men and women,” writes Bader.

The fact that engineering departments are filled mostly with men does not mean they discriminate against women anymore than the fact that English departments are filled mostly with women proves that English departments discriminate against men. The arts and humanities have well over 60 percent female students, yet no one seems to view that gender disparity as a sign of sexism against men.

Women gravitate to scientific fields that involve interaction with people, writes Bader.

As The New York Times’ John Tierney noted, “Despite supposed obstacles like “unconscious bias” and a shortage of role models and mentors, women now constitute about half of medical students, 60 percent of biology majors, and 70 percent of psychology Ph.D.’s. They earn the majority of doctorates in both the life sciences and the social sciences.” By contrast, “They remain a minority in the physical sciences and engineering,” which deal more with inanimate objects rather than people.

My younger stepdaughter majored in bio-engineering at Cornell, but decided she wanted a career with more human interaction. She’s now a nutritionist, a nearly all-female profession.

It’s hard to believe colleges will be forced to turn away aspiring male engineers because not enough young women could be lured into the field. But perhaps they’ll create new “pink” engineering courses with more talk and less math to create a faux gender balance.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Title IX enforcers to crack down on college English departments.

Nobody can ‘have it all’

Women still can’t have it all, writes Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic. She left a high-powered State Department job to return to academia to have time for her children. She wants employers to let people — not just parents — work from home when possible and take time for family needs.

. . . women should think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular stair steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation; when they leave high-powered jobs and spend a year or two at home on a reduced schedule; or when they step off a conventional professional track to take a consulting position or project-based work for a number of years.

Remember the outcry when Felice Schwartz told employers to create a family-friendly alternative for professionals? It was dubbed the “mommy track.”

Men can’t have it all either, responds James Joyner. His wife died suddenly, leaving him with a toddler and an infant.

Not long after my wife’s passing, I was offered a promotion that would have helped bridge the loss of her income but would have required much more time at the office. Professionally, it was a good move. It also made sense financially, even though it would have meant paying for a few more hours of childcare. I nonetheless declined because my daughters needed me to spend that time with them. And, frankly, I needed to spend that time with them, too.

The fact is that life is full of trade-offs. It’s not possible to “have it all.” It never was. And never will be. For women or for men.

Of course, most people aren’t going to be CEO or Secretary of State no matter how hard or long they work.

For reform — and for teachers

Education reformers need to reach out to teachers, writes Fordham’s Mike Petrilli.

How can we continue to make the case for reform without alienating teachers, without turning them into the enemy, the problem, the object of our disdain?

“One way is to put teachers in charge of their own schools,” he writes. Let teachers become school leaders.

I don’t think this will appeal to many teachers. They want to teach, not deal with management hassles.

When Petrilli asked for input, I suggested that teachers need to know that reformers understand the challenges they face in the classroom and are proposing ways to help them do their jobs well. He writes:

Another way is to champion reforms that teachers do support. For instance, make it easier for educators to discipline unruly students, or to use “ability grouping” in their classrooms instead of mandating the nearly-impossible strategy of “differentiating instruction.”  In other words, remove the obstacles (often ideological in nature) that are getting in the way of teachers achieving success in their classrooms. . . . And get their backs when they are faced with ridiculous demands from parents or others.

Petrilli also sees non-union groups such as Teach Plus, the Association of American Educators, and Educators for Excellence as a way to give teachers an independent “voice” and ensure “they aren’t learning about reform solely through the filter of union rhetoric.”

I think education reformers need to listen to teachers about what they think would improve their schools and help more students learn.

Update: Self-pitying Tantrums Are a Poor Way for Educators To Win Friends, Influence People, writes Rick Hess. He quotes “venomous” comments in response to his column on Gov. Scott Walker’s recall victory in Wisconsin. “Which words or phrases showed a profound hatred for educators or public education?” he asks. “Because, honestly, when I went back and re-read it, I didn’t see ‘em.”

Both sides of the ed reform debate need to “ease back from the self-righteousness,” urges Matthew DiCarlo on the Shanker Blog.

Men dominate the education reform debate, writes Nancy Flanagan. “Men are making the policy arguments and pronouncements, hosting the virtual communities and producing the media. Women are carrying out the policy orders, teaching kids to read using scripted programs and facing 36 students in their algebra classes.”  True?

Feminizing STEM? It can backfire

Female college students need encouragement to consider predominantly male STEM careers. However, feminizing science careers is a turn-off for middle school girls, a study finds.

Fewer women study STEM

Despite high demand for workers with technical skills, fewer women are earning certificates and associate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math  at community colleges, concludes a new report. Less than 2 percent of  engineers with four-year degrees are out of work.

Are community colleges doomed to be the Wal-Marts of higher education?