[EDEQUITY Discussion]Non-Traditional Training and Employment

From: McKevitt, Susan (SMcKevitt@ed.state.nh.us)
Date: Tue Aug 08 2000 - 17:15:14 EDT

I believe what Congress did with the issuance of the Carl D. Perkins
Vocational and Applied Technology Act of 1998 (Perkins 3) was to continue
its attack on affirmative action and equity. It did this by removing the
Equity set-aside and replacing it with the concept of Non-Traditional. We
have thus been moved from concepts of Equity (and our ability to address
social justice issues) to what I call a peacetime Rosie-the Riveter
mentality. That is, this is not about helping males/females feel
entering a non-traditional field. It is about filling the technology gap
industry says it is feeling with the very people it has spent years
excluding, i.e., women.

With that as the backdrop, it is easy to see why high tech-high wage is the
clarion cry for success on the performance indicators for the new Perkins
act. Equity is not the issue and isn't supposed to be.

In an attempt to keep equity on the table, NH requires all local Perkins
recipients to have Equity Committees which must address civil rights issues
along with access and success of "special populations" as defined by the
Act. In this way, the technical assistance is able to focus on the broad
issues in addition to offering pointed help.

My experience (7 years at the DOE and 20 dealing with sexual harassment in
the workplace) tells me that very little has changed regarding how
"welcoming" employers or educators are around women in non-traditional
programs/occupations. There is still the general surprise at how well the
female does, with the accompanying gratuitous statement of "they're even
better then the men". The teachers allow for sex segregation within the
courses. For example, in one schools auto mechanics class, there were 5
women, however none were going to be technicians. They were steered into
sales or parts. The rational offered by the teacher was that with 16" tires
coming into the lab (shop) the women were not sure they could handle that
the work world, where "help" would not be available as it was in the class.
The same rational [sic] was offered for removing head bolts from engine
blocks. I was an auto mechanic and clearly realized the foolishness of the
teachers thinking, especially in light of the rather thin looking males he
also had in that class. (I wrote this school up in the Office of Civil
Rights On-Site that we conducted as having violated Title IX)

Given that the society continues to need divisions among its citizens, our
work with equity within the major centers of indoctrination (our schools)
will continue to be very difficult, not so much at the elementary level,
at the middle and high school level. Except where it meets the
economic/industrial need, we will continue to go against the tide until it
becomes clear to the powers that be, that equity is the way to achieve
desired goals. Until then, we do the best we can with what we have.
In struggle,

"It would be extremely na´ve to expect the dominant classes to develop the
type of education that would enable subordinate classes to perceive social
injustices critically."
Paolo Freire, from The Politics of Education

Susan McKevitt
Career Development Bureau
NH Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
603-271-6613 (phone)
603-271-1953 (fax)
smckevitt@ed.state.nh.us <mailto:smckevitt@ed.state.nh.us> (email)

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