Parents Concerned Schools Not Preparing Girls For College, Careers

Harvard School of Public Health, NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released results of a new poll that found while most parents feel their child's school is doing a good enough job preparing students for college, 4 out of 10 disagree — and that number is even higher for parents of girls.

Parents of girls were also more likely to say no when asked the question of whether or not schools were preparing students for working in the real world.

Masonry teacher Matt Simpson does not find this surprising, as he feels that today's students, and especially women, face more professional hurdles. Women are the minority in trade jobs like plumbing, welding and masonry.

Christianne Corbett, a senior researcher with the American Association of University Women, agrees. She studies gender equality in the workplace and says that both boys and girls in this economy need more than a high school diploma.

"We've seen over time more and more jobs do require some sort of higher education. A high school degree really is not enough for individuals to support themselves and their families, and women are paid less than men at every level of education. So when you take that into consideration, women with a high school degree don't fare even as well as men with just a high school degree,"

Superintendent of Akron schools David James agrees that a high school career certification program isn't enough anymore. He believes that a certificate may be enough to get a student a job, but if they want to move up they will need more training. This option is not possible for many families, as training and education beyond high school is difficult financially. Some wonder if it is even worth the investment.

One student overcoming the hurdle is Kyrah Whatley, one of Simpson's masonry students. Due to support from Simpson and her family she is thinking of joining the Navy as a certified mason right after she graduates. She is considering this in spite of criticism she has faced because she is a female.

Kyrah says, ‘It doesn't matter because any woman can do anything … a man can do,' "I don't care."

Despite the fact that Kyrah's mother supports her, she does wish that Kyrah had received more advice and other options from teachers and counselors. This is where career guidance in schools is so important, because students need someone to encourage them and help them make the difficult career vs. higher education decision.

James thoroughly agrees with this and also states that:

Parents, after all, have the greatest influence when it comes to their daughters' — and sons' — choices. It isn't all about academics in a kid's life. It's also about those social and emotional supports in order to give that kid the grit and determination to be successful."

When parents and schools work together, the difficult choices kids face become easier.

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