Women and men could use a break from government college peddlers and careerism

Women and men could use a break from government college peddlers and careerism

Wayne Hoffman
December 13, 2021

When my daughter and son attended Idaho’s government-run schools, they were routinely cajoled to enroll in college. My daughter’s public charter school class was small enough that each student’s post-high school plans were read aloud along with their names at graduation. All but two graduates in a class of about 45 indicated they planned to “go on” to college in compliance with the state government’s marketing efforts.

How does one convince nearly every youngster in a graduating high school class to adopt the same post-high school plans? It’s done by adults committing intellectual fraud against impressionable students. Teenagers are routinely told to not worry about the cost of college, the accumulation of debt, or to have a specific career goal in mind when they enroll. As college is pushed, other paths suffer. 

In recent years, young women have been particularly targeted, subjected to endless marketing and targeted scholarship programs intended to bolster their interest in certain degree areas such as science and engineering. For my daughter’s part, she wasted thousands of dollars and two years of her life pursuing a degree in which she was barely interested. 

The pressure to choose college and career above everything else causes some young adults to find themselves on a trajectory and pursuing a lifestyle that they neither wanted nor needed. And it can come with cataclysmic results: anger, addiction, suicide, depression, anxiety, listlessness. Negative results for the broad American society abound, too, including the rapidly declining birthrate across the country.  

Why is this occurring? The current education system is dominated by “woke” culture, which includes feminism, and gears students toward one path: the pursuit of a professional job that requires advanced education. This imbalance in education discourages many young people from pursuing other fulfilling paths such as trades, apprenticeships, small-business ownership, and even family life. This can especially impact women who want to prioritize motherhood but feel societal pressure to pursue a career. The position of feminism is careerism.   

So that there is no misunderstanding here: Women make excellent doctors, lawyers, pilots, electricians, scientists — you name it. No one is arguing that women can't or shouldn't have a job or career. But a key argument of feminist theory is that motherhood is a source of oppression for women and therefore motherhood is not a worthy endeavor instead of or in addition to a career.

This is the problem that Boise State University Professor Scott Yenor attempted to address in his National Conservatism speech “The Family Form.” He critiqued feminism as a cabal of special interests — which includes feminist ideologues, colleges and universities, big businesses, and government bureaucrats — that has placed a premium on post-secondary education. The media, Boise State University faculty, and the Left as a whole have aligned to criticize Yenor for attacking women. Instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue about the value proposition of higher education, these leftists engage in ad hominem attacks because they can’t stand independent thinking, let alone opinions different from theirs. 

As the Idaho Freedom Foundation has warned repeatedly, dissenting opinions are met with open hostility at social justice universities. Intellectual diversity is no longer valued on campus.

The members of the cabal pretend their efforts are altruistic. They may even believe they’re doing the right thing. But in reality, they have specific self-interests that motivate their interactions, pressuring students into careerism over other fulfilling life choices. 

Feminism seeks to abolish motherhood as a dignified calling for women as well as eliminate other familial, non-career-oriented goals for young girls. For example, feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir argued stay-at-home motherhood should be illegal. Beauvoir said, “No woman should be authorized to stay home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” This devaluation of stay-at-home motherhood has been cited as a cause of the declining mental health of children. 

Make no mistake: Strong families are essential to a stable and prosperous society. Marxists across history have understood this well. Stable societies based on family life, parental rights, and child protections tend not to produce radical revolutionaries beholden to a corrupt political cause. So feminists and other post-modern ideologogues disguise careerism as empowerment and promote socialist policies to give the state primary control over children, rather than parents. 

And it’s not just women and children who are victims of this radical ideological pressure. 

Colleges and universities view all students as a potential source of revenue. The government-run higher education system measures success primarily by the number of kids who enroll. There is precious little concern for what comes next. We have watched for years as this enroll-as-many-students-at-all-costs mentality resulted in fewer than half of college students completing their education, ending up with a ton of debt and not much else to show for it. 

In her most recent report, IFF Education Policy Director Anna Miller notes that too many areas of study in Idaho result in no real return on investment. Other states have created similar problems for their young people. 

At a larger level, the government pressures students to enroll in college because that’s what is best for the government. In addition to keeping government run schools in business, stay-at-home moms and dads are devalued because dual income households are dual-taxpaying households. 

The focus on college degrees comes at the expense of other, still laudable non-degree pursuits including trades, entrepreneurship, and parenting. As a macro-level result, society discounts the mom or dad who puts raising a family ahead of career goals. That’s a fairly new phenomenon in America. 

Government run universities should not aim to socially engineer the career and life choices of young people to advance their own self interests and political agendas.

For example, women make up only 15% of engineers but 50% of the population. Feminists claim this is due to sexism. But the reality is men and women often have different preferences and make different choices. The hypocrisy of universities’ discriminatory admissions practices to accept women at the expense of men in fields like engineering is thick. No similar effort is being made to recruit men into female dominated fields such as elementary education. 

Even men are victims of an overemphasis on college and career. Many would be happier in a profession that doesn’t require a university education. There’s a well-known shortage of plumbers, electricians, roofers, framers, and mechanics caused by the myopic view that everyone needs a college degree, and failure to get one shows personal weakness. 

What’s really needed is for the higher education system, the government, and big businesses to get their fingers off the scale of a young person’s ambitions. There is nothing wrong with young women or men going to college and pursuing a career. There’s also nothing wrong with their decision to learn a trade, start a business, or raise a family. It’s their choice, and it should be unimpeded by government and businesses who have, for years, been getting away with putting their interests above those of young people.

View Comments
  • john livingston says:

    One of your great articles. The original suffragettes were not feminists. Equality is not sameness. "Every woman is a mother and every man a father"...C.S. Lewis. This doesn't mean that everybody will be a mother and a father, but that men and women are given unique and different talents and instincts that they can alone best decide how to use to serve themselves, their families, and their neighbors. There is no calling more noble than being a mother or a father. There is no vocation that is harder and requires more work and emotional and physical investment. That may be why so many people don't make the commitment to family. There is no better ROI for our families and our society.

    • Pamela Rogers says:

      Well said

    • Al says:

      Another quote from C.S. Lewis, which has caused some people to mistakenly accuse him of being sexist, while I'd say it's really a product of the times he wrote it more than anything else: “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career.”

    • Al says:

      It's a curious praise, Dr. Livingston, since Wayne blames "government-run schools" for "cajoling" his kids to pursue expensive education.

      Do you recall a couple months ago when I called out IFF's (specifically Wayne's) anti-vax statements and said he was harming Idahoans because, as a public figure with persuasive impact, he was causing people to distrust vaccines? Here was your response to me:

      "Al-- Written like a true liberal. People can read anything they want. It is not what they read that puts them at risk, but what actions they persue that puts them at risk. If they read IFF posts and eat three doughnuts a day it is not the posts that are slowly doing them in. Same thing with ETOH, smoking, drugs, and driving too fast. There are lots of articles that people read everyday that warn them about doing these things. By your logic people are not responsible or accountable for their actions, rather "the devil (IFF) made me do it." Liberals always try to put the blame on someone or something else rather than taking responsibility for themselves." Thanks for reading my posts and at least thiking about what I write. Writing for people such as yourself is like a Catholic Priest wearing a Roman collar at a fancy restaurant. When they look at the collar even if they don't beleive they at least for a second think about God. Maybe I can give you something to think about. Thanks again for your kind support and readership. jml"

      Why don't you apply the same standards to Wayne? Where was Wayne, as the parent, in the process of guiding his children toward their choices? Why do you agree with Wayne to blame his childrens' charter school for their supposed statements but when I call out Wayne, you accuse me of being a "true liberal". You take the position of not blaming the speaker; rather hold the recipient accountable, or else a "true liberal" status be bestowed upon thee.

      Oh well, double-standards is pretty commonplace when discussing politics, right? And, it seems, quite acceptable.

      Acceptable even while so frequently quoting C.S. Lewis. Quoting from him, though not living by his quotes, it seems. Look up Screwtape's letter to his nephew Wormwood about how labeling people aids to the devil's plans to move people away from God (the "enemy") and toward "our father below" (Satan). LOL! Labeling is truly a terrific method by the devil to shut down profitable discourse.

  • Mark arrowood says:

    I continue to read the vomit that comes from the IFF with great interest. The concepts of freedom and education this activist group portend amazes me everyday. Your group rails against masks and vaccinations yet are 11 times more likely to die from the virus-your definition of freedom I guess. You preach protection of the 2nd amendment yet must get frisked every time you attend a public gathering. Now intellectualism is bad and women should remain in the home nothing more than a “earthly vessel” of procreation. O so much freedoms.

  • Bruce Hendricks says:

    The fact that more men are opting out of college may be a major source of optimism. Hopefully more women will follow. Vote with your feet and pocket book, it is the only vote that counts.

  • Al says:

    A whole lot of issues jumbled up in this rant. And Anna Miller's article over the weekend adds to it.

    First, let's discuss the #1 reason researchers are finding that leads to the deterioration of mental health among younger people and, for the first time in decades (ever even?) a decreasing life expectancy: social media. No kidding. It has led to anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem and, ultimately is leading to lower life expectancy. Up there close to that cause is, as you might expect, lower physical activity.

    Next, I would agree with Wayne that there is too much emphasis on higher education to the detriment of encouraging trades. Welding, pipe-fitting, electrical work, etc. There are many fine long-lasting and well-paid jobs, particularly because those skills can't/aren't taught at all in higher education. But I would disagree that the blame is on "woke" culture. It's across the board and has been for decades. Republicans and Democrats have pushed this agenda. Tom Luna, for example, made HUGE pushes for dual-credit courses and scholarships for high schoolers to continue on in college, while he was Idaho's Sec. of Education. I know some high school counselors who are encouraging students to consider these alternative paths. SOCIAL WORKERS, WAYNE! Can you believe it? Maybe your daughter would have benefited from talking with the WOKE employees? LOL!

    And that brings us to a next issue - if a child is inclined to go on to college, why rush so much trying to get a bazillion credits while in high school? Our young college students are walking onto campus more immature and unprepared for the college lifestyle, but expecting to graduate with a diploma in less time due to accelerated courses before they're even 18. Of course they're going to do poorly looking for jobs because they lack worldly maturity. They lack wisdom. And when they're taking college-level courses in high school, they lack classroom discussions with adult-level colleagues. So the credit doesn't account for as much experience as it used to. They're getting degrees without as much education.

    And about student borrowing - here's something you might want to consider discussing around the IFF conference table. ..The easy availability of student loans has contributed to the astronomically high ballooning of college expenses over the past 3 decades. There is little competition among colleges. Sure, they compete for the best and brightest, but there is little difficulty in filling the seats because every student has access to loans and grants - borrowing against a future with little payoff. One of my first days in grad school, some buddies and I calculated the estimated breakeven point for our investment - with loans, foregoing of immediate employment and expected salaries we'd be making, we estimated a breakeven point of around age 35 from our private college. What is it for today's generation? Markets are saturated with degrees and colleges have no disincentive to hold costs in check, therefore, inflated student loan debt is taking a toll on younger people. I agree a paradigm shift needs to occur to discuss college alternatives. But it's a cultural paradigm shift that's needed and is most potently going to occur within the home, not in our government.

    But regarding Scott Yenor's comments, you're dodging Yenor's most scandalous remarks, that women are "quarrelsome", "meddlesome" and over-medicated and should be deterred from STEM studies. He identified specific course studies he believes women should stay out of. That seems to differ from what you're telling us Yenor said.

    You say that women make fine doctors and scientists. To be consistent with Yenor, are you saying that they CAN be fully qualified in those careers, while Yenor says they SHOULDN'T be in those careers? That sure sounds like the oppression you accuse feminism of.

  • enemyofthestate says:

    Congresswoman Cortez of New York has a degree in economics from Boston University.

    Tell me again the value of a college degree.....

  • KJ says:

    "How does one convince nearly every youngster in a graduating high school class to adopt the same post-high school plans?"

    Cookie cutter theory cannot and does not work. How do you take so many people from different backgrounds and produce useful workers out of the lot? You don't. Because people are not the same. One might see college as a waste and pursue one of the trades instead of following the pack. These individuals become productive doing what they love.

    The colleges push this cookie cutter idea, and keep in mind they are controlled by the liberals. They try for equality, creating clones all equal in theory. This ideology was pushed in the Soviet Union that all make the same money, all are equal. This is against human nature therefor it shall fail.

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