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March 25, 2013

Proposed: A Gender-Neutral Standard for Identity Group Whining

Last week we espied yet another idiotic piece of identity group bean counting in the NY Times:

In the United States, girls have outshined boys in high school for years, amassing more A’s, earning more diplomas and gliding more readily into college, where they rack up more degrees — whether at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels.

But that has not been the trend when it comes to one of the highest accomplishments a New York City student can achieve: winning a seat in one of the specialized high schools. At all eight of the schools that admit students based on an eighth-grade test, boys outnumber girls, sometimes emphatically.

The problem, as the Times sees it, is that NYC's elite schools rely more on standardized test scores than grades. That's bad, we are told, because girls were more likely to be admitted under the older system that balanced grades and standardized test scores:

Even the specialized schools with a focus on the classics and humanities, Brooklyn Latin and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, now have a majority of male students. It was not always that way: Girls outnumbered boys at both schools until recently. American Studies has used the specialized admissions test since it opened a decade ago.

But in the first few years at Brooklyn Latin, founded in 2006, it had a broader admission policy based on grades and exams. Once it was made one of the specialized test schools, its population swung toward males.

“Sometimes, we see boys who are very bright, and can do well on an admissions test,” said Jason K. Griffiths, the principal. “But then I think the skills that a student needs to succeed in a school may be a little bit different.”

A corollary, perhaps, of the masculine leanings of the eight schools is the makeup of some of the elite high schools that do not use the specialized admissions test for admission.

At Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, which admits students based on grades and auditions or portfolios of artwork, 73 percent of the students are girls. At Bard High School Early College, which has campuses in Manhattan and Queens, as well as at Millennium, Beacon and Townsend Harris High Schools, girls outnumber boys by at least 3 to 2.

Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief academic officer in the city’s Education Department, said the eight specialized-test schools represented just a portion of the city’s best schools, so there was a flaw in studying gender disparities solely in those eight schools. “These are not the best schools in the city,” he said of the eight specialized schools. “They are among the best schools in the city.”

He said that at the highest echelons of test-takers, girls scored as well as boys, but that overall, fewer of the strongest female students were taking the exam.

Hmmm... where have we heard this reasoning before? Here, perhaps?

Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.

The study’s authors analyzed data from more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subject areas received lower grades than their test scores would have predicted.

So when fewer girls choose to take specialized entrance exams (and therefore are outnumbered at elite schools), but are admitted at higher rates when both grades and test scores are considered, gender injustice has occurred and we should be concerned.

And when fewer boys choose to complete assignments on time (or at all), take challenging Advanced Placement classes, or put in the time required to get good grades, or even bother to apply for college (and therefore are outnumbered in all BUT the most elite colleges), gender injustice has occurred and we should be concerned.

Here's a suggestion: why don't all the zero sum game grievance peddlers just quit whining?

This used to be a country famous for opportunity. No one was guaranteed to be evaluated by the instrument that most favors their disaffected identity politics group. Whatever the criterion, America offered the chance to try to meet that standard. If you want to attend an elite school in NYC and standardized tests aren't your forte, you need to try harder and figure out a way to do well on the test. And if you want to attend college, but completing assignments, taking AP classes, and filling out all those applications just seems like too much of a hassle, you need to try harder and figure out a way to do these things anyway. Just try finding a job where your boss allows you to opt out of tasks you find too "boring" because you're just super-smart. Most employers will take an employee of average or above average intelligence and strong work skills over a brilliant one who only does what he/she thinks is important every time. And for God's sake, can both sides please quit crying "sexism" every time we don't have exactly equal numbers of pink and blue jelly beans in the national Easter basket?

For decades, we've been listening to radical feminists complain about how The Patriarchal Hegemony unfairly favored boys and men, discouraging girls from even trying. Now we're listening to the same kind of nonsense from conservatives about Feminized Pretty-Much-Everything-on-the-Planet and how The Matriarchy discourages helpless boys and men, preventing them from even trying.

Frankly this last is a bit much, given that the vast majority (it's somewhere around 85%) of American companies and high level government positions are still held by men. And that's just fine with me - it's not gender injustice because no one is actively preventing women from competing for these positions. Success in certain endeavors may or may not be harder for women than it is for men (and vice versa). But women appear to be opting themselves out of the top echelons for reasons - family, a more healthy work/life balance, an aversion to the insane hours and stress levels that characterize jobs in the top echelon - that seem good to them. Meanwhile, whilst we weep and wail about how boys are being "left behind" because of feminized schools, young men still predominate at the nation's most competitive universities. Are we seriously to believe that there is some kind of magical exemption from the prevailing attitude of female sexism that only benefits Princeton and Yale students? How does that happen?

Glenn Reynolds, linking to the NYT piece about girls at elite schools, writes (without providing examples of anyone claiming boys are inferior):

WHEN BOYS FALL BEHIND, IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE INFERIOR.

Who has said this? I've read numerous studies claiming that boys put forth less effort in school, or that they are socialized (by their parents, mind you!) to think that real men don't study or go to college. Oddly, boys with parents who teach them to work hard are doing just fine:

Boys’ underachievement compared to girls has nothing to do with intelligence. Study after study shows that boys and girls are very similar in terms of cognitive ability.

“But what is striking is that at every level of cognitive ability, boys are getting lower grades than girls. It is not about ability – it is about effort and engagement,” Buchmann said.

More girls than boys report that they like school and that good grades are important to them. They also study more than boys.

“Success in academics, like success in sports, requires time and effort. Because boys put forth less effort and are less engaged, they get lower grades and are less likely to get through college,” Buchmann said.

Some of boys’ underperformance is related to outdated views of masculinity that devalue hard work and effort in school, she said. This is particularly true for boys from blue-collar and lower-class families. Working class fathers may reinforce the idea that school is feminizing because, for them, masculinity is more about physical strength and manual labor than about getting good grades.

Many boys from middle-class families, whose fathers have managerial and white-collar jobs, often develop an “instrumental” approach to school, Buchmann said. Regardless of how much they like school, they have learned how to do well in school in order to get a well-paying job and achieve material success.

“For these boys, notions of what it means to be a man are much more in tune with what is required to be successful in today’s economy,” she said.

Like it or not, the entrance criteria for college (and most decent paying jobs) has less to do with how one scores on a test than with a candidate's work ethic, dependability, and ability to complete work without constant prodding or intensive oversight. These are the qualities that traditionally led to success: perseverance, hard work, and the ability to do what needs to be done whether or not one finds the task personally fascinating. This is an insight that applies equally to men and women.

Women: if you want equal pay, a spot in the executive suite, or a career in a tech field, you need to put in the same hours men do and make your career (not your husband or children) your first priority. That's what successful men do, and women who do those things are paid just as well as men.

Men: if you want to succeed in today's economy, you need to figure out how to get a job with a decent living wage. If you can figure out a way to become economically secure without a college degree, go for it. But don't cry "unfair" when you find out that high paying jobs that don't require a degree are scarce, or your job is the first to go (and the last to come back) during an economic downturn. Here, history is not on your side. Do what is needed to get and hold onto the job you want. Even if it requires going to college. Young men who are willing to do those things are doing just as well academically as young women.

We really need to get a grip on this "War on Men/Women" business. Life is hard enough as it is. It's even harder if you go through it expecting everything to be fair and balanced. Repeat after me:

THERE IS NO WAR ON WOMEN (or girls, for that matter)

AND THERE IS NO WAR ON MEN (or boys, for that matter)

There are only differences, most of which you will never be able to control: differences in aptitude, work ethic, effort, luck, and yes - often policy that may favor you or make succeeding harder. That's no excuse. Figure out what you want and put in the hard work needed to meet or exceed whatever threshold is required to get you in the door. Whining about how the prevailing standard doesn't play to your unique snowflake status isn't just unimpressive.

It's borderline suicidal, both at the individual and societal level.

Posted by Cassandra at March 25, 2013 07:28 AM

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Comments

The problem with a reference to history is that the job market is changing rapidly under our feet. It's very hard to say whether an investment in a degree is really worth the money right now.

Many times employers want certifications instead of degrees, which are achieved by a different process. Especially in technical fields, certifications not only replace degrees, because you can compete for a lower wage, it makes it more likely you will actually get the job if you don't have a degree beyond the lowest-common-denominator degree acceptable for the position. Maybe that's shifting from high school to BA, but if so that's just imposing an extra cost on people in return for no benefit to them. Here as elsewhere, the system is broken -- not for men or for women, but entirely. Surprisingly, it is broken on Marx's terms: it's driving people toward lower achievement, lower wages, and punishing striving. We'd be better off in terms of actually getting work if we were the cogs employers want: otherwise, you don't get hired at all, and you starve if you depend on the market.

What is wanted is skill, not education, and that provided at the lowest level possible so that wages can be kept minimal.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 10:51 AM

It's very hard to say whether an investment in a degree is really worth the money right now.

I don't agree, Grim. The evidence seems to suggest otherwise, rather forcefully.

I think you're conflating a number of things (like taking on huge student loans, or getting a degree in a field that's not in demand) with getting a degree. Getting a degree has never guaranteed anything, but on average people who have degrees earn more than those who don't.

What evidence is there that getting a degree confers 'no additional benefit'?

Posted by: Cass at March 25, 2013 10:55 AM

Sorry, there's a missing word above. "...not only replace degrees, BUT because..."

I'd be hard-placed to give advice to a young worker today, but I don't think it would include more college. Seeking technical certifications might prove a stopgap, but even there -- if there is significant expense -- there aren't guarantees adequate to making any course of action reliable enough to justify the investment. Government and the market have raised uncertainty enough that nothing you do can be considered wise.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 10:58 AM

...there aren't guarantees adequate to making any course of action reliable enough to justify the investment. Government and the market have raised uncertainty enough that nothing you do can be considered wise.

That's an opinion, and you're certainly entitled to it but it would seem problematic from a logical standpoint. First of all, how many jobs are there out there that don't require a degree?

The hard truth is that a degree won't guarantee you a job but it absolutely will bar you from a great number of jobs.

Secondly, there have NEVER been guarantees.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 11:02 AM

Evidence of the sort you're asking for must be backward-looking, and that's actually useless for predicting a changing trend for the future. It's as if one were describing the possibility for a falling tide at high tide: all the evidence from the day would suggest that the tide was rising, and there would be nothing to suggest that it ever might fall.

The question is whether there is a fundamental matter affecting wages. I think there is: that with globalization, wages ought to fall in most occupations toward third-world levels (i.e., differing only where third-world workers appropriately trained cannot do the work). Education isn't going to help you here. Skills may, for a while, until a mechanism for conveying skills to distant workers is reliable.

Now some professions are immune to this -- plumbers, say. They not only have skills, they do physical work that cannot be reallocated abroad. They're in the cat bird seat. Knowledge workers aren't. If anything, knowledge workers know more than they need to know already. That's a wasted resource, for which the market will punish them.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 11:04 AM

As for your 'hard truth,' the fact is that my degrees bar me from a number of jobs. I can't pursue many options with an MA or a Ph.D. because the market assumes I'm 'overqualified,' and won't even talk to me about them. I can't pursue other options because I have degrees instead of certifications.

I think the market is really brutal on people, human beings who have to survive. It demands they invest time and money in things that, finally, don't merely have 'no guarantee' of success, but don't even give them a reasonable expectation of success (especially given the expense of the degree or certification). Our economic system is highly inhumane: we just don't know how to build a better one.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 11:08 AM

As for your 'hard truth,' the fact is that my degrees bar me from a number of jobs. I can't pursue many options with an MA or a Ph.D. because the market assumes I'm 'overqualified,' and won't even talk to me about them.

Have you tried not putting them on your resume?

I work in a field where a lot of people do have certifications - there are no guarantees there, either. There aren't any guarantees anywhere, and I'm not convinced there should be (nor even why we would expect them).

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 11:19 AM

Evidence of the sort you're asking for must be backward-looking, and that's actually useless for predicting a changing trend for the future.

I don't think this follows logically, though. Is it a perfect predictor? No, nothing is. But looking historical trends provides a perspective you would not otherwise have. It can show you what direction things are headed in. That's hardly "worthless", unless you're demanding a degree of certainty that no measure can provide.

It's as if one were describing the possibility for a falling tide at high tide: all the evidence from the day would suggest that the tide was rising, and there would be nothing to suggest that it ever might fall.

There's a logical fallacy here one can drive a truck through, Grim. The historical trend would show you that the tide rises and falls in cycles every day.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 11:32 AM

We really need to get a grip on this "War on Men/Women" business.


It is intrinsic to war that it requires grounds, a standpoint, an allegiance, and a willingness to lob mortar shells. On the last point conservatives take a way, way back seat to liberals and then, not as action but reaction. Leftism requires tension. It serves as focusing the attention to one thing and misdirecting it from another. How many of the tubules are 'inies' and how many 'outies' provide just this tension and misdirection. In the accounting of females and males we are meant to take no notice of the red ink – the rubble about us all – both sexes, and all three genders.

Posted by: George Pal at March 25, 2013 12:02 PM

I think you're conflating a number of things (like taking on huge student loans, or getting a degree in a field that's not in demand) with getting a degree.

This.

Getting the *right* degree, and being smart about paying for it are the keys. Getting a gender greivance degree from Harvard will not have anywhere near the returns a Math degree from a middle tier state school would.

Not a single employer has looked at my resume and turned up their nose because it said "Georgia State University" or "University of Memphis" instead of "University of Georgia" or "University of Tennessee".

Maybe if I applied at NASA they would.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 25, 2013 01:20 PM

I ran into a little bit of school preference here in DC, but I suspect it had more to do with not having local references than where my degree came from.

I did interview with one school that "only hired from Duke or Purdue" (how weird is that in the DC area?). They admitted they had no real reason for doing so.

I'm a huge fan of community colleges. I got my first two degrees there b/c it was so much cheaper and would do it again.

Being with the Marines as long as we were, I quickly learned that if there are few/no jobs in the area, that's kind of a trump card. I moved to DC when my husband was in college b/c I couldn't find a decent job, degree or no degree. Certainly the chances will always be better if you're competing in a large pool with lots of jobs than if there are a lot of applicants and few jobs.

But that's true regardless of whether you have a degree or not as I can attest, having worked for many years with no degree.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 01:38 PM

There's a logical fallacy here one can drive a truck through, Grim. The historical trend would show you that the tide rises and falls in cycles every day.

That's not a logical fallacy, Cass. It's a question of when your record begins. If you have data from previous days, sure. If your data began at low tide, not so much. I assume you're familiar with that issue from the global warming debate.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 02:03 PM

Have you tried not putting them on your resume?

Sure. Doesn't work, either because they sort out at the interview that you're more well-educated than they want, or because education isn't the issue any more -- it's industry certification. Education is as often a hampering condition, as well as a major expense that may not be wise to undertake. You're probably smarter educating yourself informally, avoiding college, and seeking whatever industry standards hold in the industry you want to join.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 02:09 PM

That's not a logical fallacy, Cass. It's a question of when your record begins. If you have data from previous days, sure. If your data began at low tide, not so much. I assume you're familiar with that issue from the global warming debate.

Your comment at 11:04 came after mine, where I said mentioned the historical record and linked to earnings data showing an upward trend going back nearly 40 years. Now I suppose the direction of those trends could suddenly reverse itself for no reason, but that seems rather unlikely.

The idea that almost 4 decades of data is "worthless" just doesn't strike me as well founded. That's kind of the point of using historical data - you can't just go back a few years because then you get caught in smaller market fluctuations.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 02:33 PM

Education is as often a hampering condition, as well as a major expense that may not be wise to undertake. You're probably smarter educating yourself informally, avoiding college, and seeking whatever industry standards hold in the industry you want to join.

Grim, you keep making these statements without really providing anything to support them. If they are only intended to reflect your opinion, that's fine but once again, in the aggregate (if we're giving advice to a generic young man/woman), your opinion doesn't seem to be supported by any evidence.

It took me 10 years to get my bachelors because I went slowly and didn't take out any loans at all. I also didn't go to expensive schools. Low income students qualify for generous government grants that pay all or most of their tuition - I know this because I worked as a financial aid officer to pay my own way through school for over 2 years.

Finally, the average student loan just isn't that large. Yes, some foolish students take out $100,000 or even more but they are not the norm. The average student loan balance (which is financed over a considerably longer time period) is lower than the average new car loan and it has a much longer repayment term.

Generally, a new car loan has to be paid off within 4-6 years. Most student loans have terms of 10-20 years.

If "going to college" means "taking on huge amounts of debt" (something that isn't actually needed to get a degree), then I agree with you - it's not worth it. But if a student is careful and manages debt wisely, it's very do-able.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 02:53 PM

I see some value in what Grim is saying. Not to the degree (ba-dum-bum) to which he's saying it, though.

There is a lot of time and money spent by the Criminal Justice major who takes a job as a project manager that is wasted (learning and storing material that will never be used). This is true, even if they are smart about where they go to school and how they pay for it.

In the aggregate, they are better off, no doubt. But it does seem a horribly inefficient way to demonstrate the qualities of employability when something like 3/4ths of people are employed outside their major field.

It may be the best method for doing so today, but there has to be a better way.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 25, 2013 04:12 PM

This reading is only my opinion, but it is a fact that current trends do not always continue. If your argument for why it will continue is only that it has for a long time, that's fine; but I think there are reasons why the trend won't continue. One reason, as cited, is that industry standards are now a better way of establishing particular qualifications than degrees in many fields. Another is that globalization is making even relatively skilled labor fungible, so that more and more careers that have previously been free of globalized pressure are competing with places like India and China. That drives wages down, while the cost of education continues to rise. At some point, those lines cross -- so even if we aren't there yet as I think we are, we'll get there soon enough.

Furthermore, education's tie to personal prosperity is a historical anomaly. That 40-year trend stands on the back of several hundred years in which a college or university education was not especially well-related to a career in private industry. It's a trend line that looks really strong or not especially strong depending on where you start and stop; and since we don't have data for the future, our stopping point is rather arbitrary.

So yeah, the data for the last 40 years show what they show. I think the data for the next 40 years will show something else. I have reasons for thinking the recent trend won't continue. Betting on the current trend to continue is of course something that people are free to do, but it strikes me as getting in late on the housing bubble: a good way to lose out, financially.

Of course there are other reasons to educate yourself, reasons of personal growth and spiritual fulfillment. Insofar as you can afford it, then, you might wish to do it for those reasons. I'm certainly in favor of education -- I just don't think it's going to be the sine qua non for a good career in the future.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 04:52 PM

One reason, as cited, is that industry standards are now a better way of establishing particular qualifications than degrees in many fields.

I have no idea what industry standards you are referring to, Grim. So you may be right. I do know that I have not seen a whole lot of want ads citing "industry standards" (as opposed to degrees).

That 40-year trend stands on the back of several hundred years in which a college or university education was not especially well-related to a career in private industry.

Are you seriously suggesting that the economies of the 1600/1700/1800 or even early 1900s are more relevant to (better predictors) of today's economy than the last 50-100 years? That's a pretty bold statement :p

Do you really think we're headed back to a pre-industrial revolution economy? Or are you betting on the government collapsing?

It's a trend line that looks really strong or not especially strong depending on where you start and stop; and since we don't have data for the future, our stopping point is rather arbitrary.

Certainly if you misuse the data by picking extremely short time periods or going back so far that the job market looks absolutely nothing like it does now, I suppose you can make that point. But it seems extremely arbitrary to me to try to make the argument that economic conditions hundreds of years ago are relevant in a global economy where women are participating in the job market and technology has replaced most manual labor. These are all titanic changes from the world of several hundred years ago.

If your point is that the world is going to implode and we'll all be choppin' cotton, at that point I'm going to go out on a limb and say no one will be paying back their student loans :p

If we're talking about betting, most odds makers would put some pretty heavy odds on a bet that has to go back hundreds of years to support a prediction of change during in the near future (and mind you, we have only your word for it that the trends were otherwise on a longer time frame - I can't find any data that goes back that far, so we'll have to rely on your statement).

What you're essentially saying is, "Ignore today's jobs data. Ignore 4 decades of trends. I think things are going to change".

"Why?"

"Well, hundreds of years ago when things were completely different in every way, college wasn't a good investment"

By the way, the reason we didn't get hurt by the housing bubble was that we looked at the long term trends and were able to see that the housing bubble was unprecedented by historic standards.

It wasn't a gradual, upward climb with normal fluctuations but a steep, exponential curve that suddenly - without any historical precedent - shot into the stratosphere.

So all trends are not alike, and historical data can tell you a lot. We're not currently seeing such a spike. Rapid growth is usually followed by equally rapid decline, but that's not at all what we're talking about here.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 05:29 PM

I have no idea what industry standards you are referring to, Grim.

I'm talking about things like IT certifications. You really do see those in want ads, all the time in fact. There isn't any good reason why they shouldn't replace a degree requirement in many cases, for the same reason that a plumber doesn't need a degree to do his job.

Are you seriously suggesting that the economies of the 1600/1700/1800 or even early 1900s are more relevant to (better predictors) of today's economy than the last 50-100 years?... Certainly if you misuse the data by picking extremely short time periods or going back so far ...

I don't mean to do either of these things. What I think is that we passed through a period of time in which a certain kind of college served a particular purpose, but that we may be passing out of that period now (for reasons cited). A 40 year trend isn't really that impressive on the broader scale: if we saw a trend that lasted from 1810-1850, we'd not be especially bothered to learn that it stopped for some reason.

So, I'm giving you some reasons why I think this trend is going to stop. They're reasons. That's all. You can place your own bets, if you're a young person starting out today.

Posted by: Grim at March 25, 2013 05:51 PM

I see some value in what Grim is saying.

So do I. That's why I said in my post that if men can figure out how to become economically secure without college, that's fantastic. And I mean that sincerely.

Grim uses the term "sine qua non", but nothing in my post argues that college is essential to financial success or getting a good job, so that's a bit of a straw man statement. It's true, but it's also beside the point of this post.

There are folks with no degrees who could buy and sell me 10 times over and my hat is off to them. But if you're playing the odds, they don't favor that outcome. It's more the exception than the general rule and is probably more attributable to personal qualities than lack of college. To suggest that ordinary people can/should expect extraordinary results fails the common sense test.

There's nothing wrong with risk taking or rolling the dice. But when someone decides to take a risk - something they're perfectly free to do - and the risk doesn't pan out, I don't want to have to bail them out. Just like I don't want to bail out people who took out student loans way out of line with their expected earnings.

My husband really wanted to go to more grad school. So did I. And we could afford it. We could have afforded to take on student loans, but we didn't because doing so would have placed our future at risk for not much benefit. We didn't buy a house we couldn't afford, either. We bought about 1/4th of what we could afford and I think that was a good decision. I'd rather live under my means than beyond them.

It's not as though I'm arguing that college is some kind of guarantee. I've said just the opposite several times on this post. My youngest boy hasn't gone back for his Masters' because it doesn't make financial sense to do so. That was NOT the case with his bachelors', though. Or mine.

I didn't study what I was really interested in, in school, because I knew that degree was in an market saturated field that wouldn't make me employable. Instead, I studied computer science: a field in which I have very little natural interest. And I do like my job. It's interesting and pays well, even if it's not what I dreamed of doing.

But then there's no degree for being Queen of All I Survey...

/running for the barricades

Posted by: Cassandra at March 25, 2013 06:00 PM

That's why I said in my post that if men can figure out how to become economically secure without college, that's fantastic.

Well, my thoughts we not so much gender specific. I think women spend an enormous amount of time and money inefficiently. Imagine that you needed to be 100 miles away from where you are now. To get there you drive 90mph for one hour and then 10mph for another hour. You get to your destination in two hours and this is undeniably better.

But how you get there stinks.

But we're facing something of a bootstrapping problem. We've done it so long, and seen that it does work for so long that (a posteriori) anyone who does something different is dismissed a priori. And this makes perfect sense. Because in the aggregate those who didn't go to college really did perform poorly and trying to find the few nuggets in there aren't worth the effort because that's not the way to bet.

And so we continue to do inefficient things.

So my advice to any teenager today would be to go to college, but be smart about your major and your financing. Going to a private school to get a degree in early childhood education is not a wise investment. If you're doing it because your other option is buying an Aston Martin, well, sure, go knock yourself out. But down come crying to me when you are $100k in debt making $30k/year when you could have gone to a cheap state school and made the $30k.

To my grandchildren, I'm not so sure. I do think Grim has a point that they underlying basis of the last 40 year trend is changing under our feet.

I think we are in the middle of the information equivalent of the industrial revolution. This will simultaneously make education more important, but I think it will also make college, as it is currently in operation, a luxury good.

There will always be a place for learning for learning's sake: for self-actualization. But I think there is a real need for a much more applied version. I'm one of the very weird people who are actually employed in my field of study (both B.S. and M.S.) and I fought with my professors constantly as their idea of applied statistics was taking old theory and "applying" it to prove new theory. They thought their job was to teach the wonderful and intricate world of statistics. After all, they wanted to have tests and theorems named after themselves. That was what excited *them*. I, however, had no interest in the YAG theorem, I was looking for a job.

A complete and utter mismatch between what college was offering and what I wanted. But there really was no other way to get what I wanted than by taking what they were offering.

I think if we haven't gotten these two things separated out in 40 years, we're going to be behind the 8-ball.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 25, 2013 11:50 PM

Blue wah, pink wah. No one prospers in the market until he (or she) stops polishing up the favorite little artistic project that is himself, and starts looking about to see what other people need done so urgently that they're willing to invest resources to get it done.

I'm the first to approve of eccentricity in self-development, but it's important to open our eyes to when we're engaged in an expensive hobby that will require us to rethink our standard of living.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 26, 2013 10:54 AM

We have a very old (35+ years?) version of the Marine Officers' Guide that begins with an anecdote about how to be an effective J.O. Essentially it boils down to, "Find out what the old SOB wants and give it to him" :p

Given that junior workers rarely have the experience or knowledge to accurately evaluate the wisdom of current or proposed policy, that struck me as pretty good advice. What I liked about Marine command culture is that even fairly junior enlisted and officers will speak up if they think something is dumb, but they also seem to understand that there's a limit to the utility of rethinking every policy and reinventing every wheel.

It's that balance between initiative and cooperation that is invaluable, and which we seem to have lost.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 26, 2013 11:15 AM

What I liked about Marine command culture is that even fairly junior enlisted and officers will speak up if they think something is dumb, but they also seem to understand that there's a limit to the utility of rethinking every policy and reinventing every wheel.

Yes, this is right. I'm much impressed, negatively, with the go-along attitude that seems to hold in academia. If the 'smart people' are saying some theory, it must be acceptable; and if it isn't, well, nobody can be sure because it's couched in such jargon that you can always claim your opponent is an idiot who just doesn't understand what you are saying anyway.

We could use a few more Marines.

Posted by: Grim at March 26, 2013 11:27 AM

...and yet the military is thought to be a rigid, authoritarian power structure manned by mindless automatons... :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 26, 2013 12:07 PM

Not by us. :)

Posted by: Grim at March 26, 2013 12:17 PM

Not by us. :)

Yes, but we are controlled by the DoD mind control rays... which mysteriously ceased functioning when Teh Won ascended the Imperial Throne :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 26, 2013 12:33 PM

Essentially it boils down to, "Find out what the old SOB wants and give it to him" :p

Point taken.

But as a hiring manager I *am* the old SOB (God, that's a depressing thought) and the college stats programs are *not* giving me what I want.

As a practicle matter, if employers tell candidates they need to spend 4 years hopping on one foot while singing the hokey-pokey, well, son, get to hopping and singing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 26, 2013 01:30 PM

"The problem, as the Times sees it, is that NYC's elite schools rely more on standardized test scores than grades. "

some do, some don't. Guess who are they bitching about?

"And when fewer boys choose to complete assignments on time (or at all), take challenging Advanced Placement classes,"

challenging? LMAO and take AP classes? Those who do still score better on science and maths when tested.
http://www.vdare.com/articles/how-uc-bureaucrats-use-advanced-placement-tests-to-help-asians-hurt-whites

"Meanwhile, whilst we weep and wail about how boys are being "left behind" because of feminized schools, young men still predominate at the nation's most competitive universities."

They don't, the gender ratios are close to equality in many of them, MIT Caltech's admit rates for girls being more than twice of that of boys.
Look at this Harvey Mudd gender bender:

"For the class of 2013:

Males accepted: 447
Females accepted: 304

Males enrolled: 133
Females enrolled: 74

Class of 2014:

Males accepted: 312
Females accepted: 325"

And what do you get a civil rights commission on discrimination for? Why lower admit rate for girls at liberal arts colleges. This all despite the fact that boys are over-represented at the extreme end of right tail where these "competitive" colleges should be picking their students from.

"Are we seriously to believe that there is some kind of magical exemption from the prevailing attitude of female sexism that only benefits Princeton and Yale students? "

You should be considering the disparity between genders at such high aptitudes.

"Some of boys’ underperformance is related to outdated views of masculinity that devalue hard work and effort in school, she said. "

Indeed, the notions of masculinity keeping boys down, WE NEED TO REMAKE MASCULINITY! And not the school co-education that follows the standard infiltration of male institutions:
1)women are totally compatible with the institution
2)need more women naaoo
3)the institution is not compatible with women

Today of course they are brazen enough that step3 is the first step. Take a gander at Nancy Hopkins and her blatherings on MIT's and other institutes' science culture.

"AND THERE IS NO WAR ON MEN (or boys, for that matter)"

it is quite funny that once upon a time a young man's adversaries were other young men, now it's old women cooped up in academia who get their PhDs talking about crises of masculinity. And how women aren't fully human because they can't be totally like men. Logical contradictions are for the weak-minded...

"Boys lack advocates. The special efforts made by schools to steer more girls into advanced math and science classes came after powerful advocacy groups embraced the problem. But Gurian and other advocates for boys say they run into resistance from educators who point to males' success in the workforce as proof that advocacy for boys is unnecessary."

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003-08-28-our-view_x.htm

The more women attend colleges, the more the gap between them and the dwindling male right half of the bell curve attending college, more need for programs for raising women's achievements!!

Even the feminist icon Doriss Lessing now says that the boys get shafted in school.

"Twenty years ago, when I began career counseling, my male and female clients were equally upbeat about their future. Today, for the most part, the girls and women are confident, feeling the world is their oyster, while the boys and men more often are despondent, scared, or angry. The phrase that best defines my male clients is “beaten down.”
-Marty Nemko

Posted by: namae nanka at March 27, 2013 01:27 AM

Where are all these dejected men? I never meet them.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 27, 2013 01:45 AM

forgot to mention this good link:

http://unmaskingfeminism.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/the-feminization-of-rhetoric/

Posted by: namae nanka at March 27, 2013 03:02 AM

challenging? LMAO and take AP classes? Those who do still score better on science and maths when tested.

Who has said otherwise? That's *why* the NYT is complaining about the "overrepresentation" of boys at these schools.

Look at this Harvey Mudd gender bender:

You know what's missing?

1) Application numbers. If more women applied then the approval rate for each gender may be the same (in fact, depending on application rates the approval rate for boys could have gone up).
2) SAT/ACT/GPA distributions. If the guys for the class of 2014 had lower scores a gender neutral policy would natural lead to higher female approval rate.
3) And the last several years data for each. If a 15 percentage point swing in either gender's proportion (almost certainly smaller after controlling for applications & scores) year over year is typical then this should not be surprising.

it is quite funny that once upon a time a young man's adversaries were other young men, now it's old women cooped up in academia who get their PhDs talking about crises of masculinity.

Who cares who their adversaries are? Do you really mean to tell me that boys and men are unequal to the task of taking on old women?

If that's true, then boys and men *ought* to find themselves behind.
If that's false, then what the hell are you bitching about? Nut up and get the job done!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 27, 2013 09:17 AM

"Who has said otherwise?"

There is a difference between AP grades and AP exams, taking a "challenging" AP course doesn't automatically mean that a challenge has been accepted when the grades still get handed out like free candy.

"You know what's missing?"

your ignorance of berkeley gender bias case. See the simpson's paradox on wiki.

"1) Application numbers. If more women applied then the approval rate for each gender may be the same (in fact, depending on application rates the approval rate for boys could have gone up). "

male admit rate: 15.8%
female admit rate: 43.6%
HMC's commitment to gender-equality: 1000%

"2) SAT/ACT/GPA distributions. If the guys for the class of 2014 had lower scores a gender neutral policy would natural lead to higher female approval rate."

MIT's range goes 750-800 on SAT-M, even if you double the male applications, it doesn't mean that their scores would be automatically lower. That was the whole point of pointing out the disparate number of boys at higher aptitudes and yet the almost 50/50 distribution of students along gender, in some cases even favoring females.
There are however extenuating circumstances like other subjects balancing out the gender ratio. And this factoid from Judith Kleinfeld posted by George Pal on the first thread that I came upon:

"Research by psychology professor Judith Kleinfeld at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, finds that nearly one-quarter of high school seniors across the United States who are sons of white, college-educated parents have woeful reading skills, ranking "below basic" on a national standardized test.
"These boys cannot read a newspaper and get the main point," Kleinfeld told LiveScience. "These boys cannot read directions for how to use equipment and follow them."


"3) And the last several years data for each. If a 15 percentage point swing in either gender's proportion (almost certainly smaller after controlling for applications & scores) year over year is typical then this should not be surprising."

Look up the personality that Maria Klawe is. And Marilee Jones.

http://0x0014.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/engineering-vs-law/

I can haz cake and eat it az well?

"Who cares who their adversaries are?"

Nathanson and Young do.

"Do you really mean to tell me that boys and men are unequal to the task of taking on old women? "

They aren't, but women armed with knowledge accumulated by men(poor women were denied education!!!) and a gargantuan inferiority complex nurtured for their whole life who play it out in academia are not exactly the first thing a young man notices as his enemy. Even those who are in colleges.

"If that's false, then what the hell are you bitching about? "

I am pointing out the errors in what this blog authoress is claiming, which too smacks of what the old women in academia are afflicted of.

"Nut up and get the job done!"

it gets boring :(

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/meritocracy-dangerous-cancer-statistics/comment-page-1/#comment-1514240

IF you are still reading, check out the 11th grade asian minnesotans who conclusively proved that Larry Summers was wrong. That was supposed to be the third comment on the above link, that went down the intertubes to nowhere.

Posted by: namae nanka at March 27, 2013 06:19 PM

though sometimes I rise to meet the 'challenge'

http://andrewgelman.com/2013/03/18/mertzs-reply-to-unzs-response-to-mertzs-comments-on-unzs-article/#comment-144197

Posted by: namae nanka at March 29, 2013 04:17 PM

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