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Building an Einstein, False Pretense, False Hopes: Where is the Accountability?

In American Dream Series, College Series, Life! on November 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Building an Einstein, False Pretense, False Hopes:   Where is the Accountability When a Woman Sues College for Unemployment and Disney Faces Lawsuit for Falsely Advertising Baby Products?

A year ago, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit against Disney’s Einstein series for deceiving parents into thinking that using their Baby Einstein products will make their babies smarter.  The result: Disney is offering refunds.

About three months ago, a woman sues her college for not helping her find a job once she graduated. The result: case is without merit.

While both Disney and colleges market their products as “educational,” Disney is now forced to refund its products for lack of  infantile intellectual results, while colleges are held unaccountable for unemployed alumni, who are often promised help from their college’s Career Development Offices.

Do not get me wrong; I am not necessarily supporting the woman’s case.  I am however, trying to make sense of accountability.  Who is responsible for the vague ambiguous idea of “education”?  Indeed, Ebony and I have met many a book-smart individual who lacked common sense.  So, what does it mean to be educated?  In what capacity does a person qualify as educated?  Better yet, what is an “educated” being supposed to look or act like?    Both Disney and college rely on the overall potential of their customers as their marketing gimmick.  Explicitly they both promise to produce more learned and capable humans, implicitly that their products will prepare students for the “real world.”

But no parent in their right mind really expects their kid to become an Einstein when they buy these products.  However, parents do expect their kids to get better paying jobs when they send them to college.

So why is Disney held accountable and college are not?

Perhaps,  the reason why colleges are not sued is because in their Mission Statements, they never advertise that their goal is to employ students in the workforce.   Maybe, Disney could have avoided their sad fate if they wrote a nice mission statement too.

In fact, many colleges mission statements are slightly flowery and vague, generally aimed to prepare students to graduate with a sense of social awareness.  Take Notre Dame University; they hope to graduate students with an “appreciation for … achievements of human beings … and concern for the common good that … becomes service to justice.”   Similarly, Grinnell College seeks to:

Educat[e] young men and women in the liberal arts through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas … to graduate women and men who can think clearly …  speak and write persuasively and even eloquently, who can evaluate critically both their own and others’ ideas, who can acquire new knowledge, and … serve the common good.”

And if they fail?  If students don’t come out serving the common good or being open minded or persuasive?  Did the school fail? Should the students deserve a refund?

A lot of people think that going to college automatically means that they will get a better paying job.  Not in this market. BUT,  they eventually will, so is it right that colleges credit prominent individuals who become successful in their later years to them?  Likewise, are we judging too soon on the effects of Baby Mozart on Everybaby?

Regardless, with the rampant statistics correlating higher education with salaries, people are running like crazy for higher learning.  After hearing that veteran IT professionals are taking classes in Shakespeare, which have no relevancy to their jobs, so that they can complete their Associates Degree, I could not help but shiver at the wasted time and money.

Perhaps it is an incremental process and we have judged too soon whether a baby will become a genius.  In that sense, perhaps the essay I wrote regarding Hobbesian theory to Wuthering Heights will traverse its way into serving the common good.  And, perhaps, Freud and Jungian Psychology actually does help explain away and thereby relieve the abnormalities of humanity.

Ironically, it is these very statistics that perpetuate the system we live in now, where almost every decent paying job requires a B.A., which further demarcates and stratifies the privileged, who can afford an education, gain power, and make rules, against those that cannot.

So, we applaud Lawyers who want to break Disney’s monopoly on the baby market.  Perhaps we should applaud this woman on trying to break college’s monopoly on young adults?

If we are to move into the future, we need to credit other forms of education, other than the traditional four year degree, which is not a guarantee of anything. 

This one anonymous post expresses the frustration of many graduates:

Colleges regularly lie through their teeth about the job prospects for their degrees in the subjects they teach.

Imagine that after working your #$% off and getting yourself in debt for that degree, you suddenly find out that the job prospects for your degree were crap. And it’s not because the job prospects for your degree declined recently, but the job prospects have been crap for more than a decade.

If colleges and universities can be honest about job prospects for sociology, gender studies, art, history, then I see no reason why they should also be honest about job prospects for information technology.

As for:”The college prides itself on the excellent career-development support that we provide to each of our students, and this case does not deserve further consideration,”(Sarcasm) I bet when you ask the college, they don’t have problems with drugs too. (every college has).

We live in a world where status is determined by tiers and ranks and educated individuals validated by a paper of credit and their ability to create “open discourse.”

If that is the case, it’s not the college’s fault when we students graduate unemployed.  We just didn’t read the mission statement.  And in order to avoid problems, Disney should create one too.

What do you think?

Obsolete When All Are Employed welcome your comments!

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I DON’T NEED YOUR MONEY!: The Modern Woman

In American Dream Series, Life!, Work Series on October 29, 2009 at 3:08 am

In the effort to evade the courting of a local Club Promoter, I told him that I had to stay home to job search to which he replied, “Oh, good. I like a girl with goals.”  Two things crossed my mind:  1) he tried to impress me with his self-implied ambition and 2) how many goalless women has he met to be so shocked that I, a single female, is actively looking for a job?  To champion the typical female stereotype of Gold Digger fueled my drive to secure employment.  And, ironically, I have joined his line of work, but in the financial industry as a Promotions Specialist.

Recognizing the changing roles of women, as discussed in yesterday’s post, got me thinking about my recent change in priorities.  Earlier this year and during much of my time in college, I desired to join the Arts. “As long as I am happy, I am OK with being poor,” I told myself as I hustled through New York networking and scouring the theater scene.  Much to my dismay,  I found that many females in the arts can do so because they married well-paid husbands.

The efforts of the feminist movement from the political Susan B. Anthony  to the fashionable flappers to the Third Wave feminists of today are marked by a continuation of female progress in politics, in their personal lives,  in the work force, and in the arts.  Shocking to discover that despite the popularity of Sex and the City and the Vagina Monologues, a Princeton study confirmed that the failure of women progress in theater is due to biases by women artistic directors (who rank female playwrights lower than male playwrights).

Perhaps, women want to challenge women to up their game in this male dominated world but if a man is considered artistic because he threw a bunch of  Zombies in a Jane Austin novel, the standard isn’t that high.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The bottom line is that I never want to be impressed by someone because he can offer me something materialistic.  Impressed with his personable charisma and overall character?  Yes.   Impressed with his skills and direct line of work? Perhaps.  Impressed with the fact that he can afford to fly to France tomorrow. And take me with him? NO.

I’d be impressed if he could fly me to the moon.  But not many men could afford to fly me back … so forget that.   And the desire for financial independence changed my goals.

Sadly, these hard times has driven some women to cling to men — the return of concubines in China, (village girls who seek rich and powerful city men to take care of them), being one example.  However,  financial independence is what we Modern Women owe to our pioneers.

In addition, despite a recent poll report that 80% of males and females are OK with women getting paid more than men, we live in an age where people divorce each other with a the drop of a dime and are even quicker to leave a bad situation.  Women cannot solely rely on the male factor to decide their fate.

Perhaps it is a cop out to choose a profession that is not my first interest.  But the do or die mentality is for those willing to die.  And I do not.  Is there a fault in that?

–T.A.

Time Review: The State of the American Woman

In American Dream Series, Life!, Misc, Uncategorized, Work Series on October 28, 2009 at 10:12 am
Time Cover

PHOTOGRAPH FOR TIME BY RALPH GIBSON

This Article Was: Insightful, puzzling, frustrating, doe-eyed, poll driven

In today’s society, are women forced to sacrifice happiness for power and respect? According to the recent Time’s article, since the magazine’s spring of 1972 research on the status of women “in the throes of women’s lib”, women have made amazing strives in the workplace, home and society in general. However, these advancements seem to have put a strain on their overall happiness, which the article points out: “no tidy theory explains the trend.”

According to Justin Wolfers, a co-author of The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness (touché): “We looked across all sectors—young vs. old, kids or no kids, married or not married, education, no education, working or not working—and it stayed the same,’ he says of the data…’but there are a few ways to look at it’” The article goes on to suggest that maybe these results have happened because women have become more honest about “what ails them.” Another suggestion is: “they [women] are now free to wrestle with the same pressures and conflicts that once accounted for greater male unhappiness.”

In addition, this article goes on to cover even more facets and complexities of this issue well. But what does it all mean, really?

When I studied abroad in South Africa a little more than a year ago, I remember a conversation I had with my host mom, whom I lived with in the Lang Township, in Cape Town. We were talking about women, and responsibilities, and I made the comment: “African women are expected to do everything these days! They have to buy the food, cook the food, feed the children, take care of the house, work, and lead the household. It seems so difficult.” “It is Ebony,” my host mom responded—she was a mother and a granny, who raised not only her children, but her children’s children as well—“it is expected of us to do everything, and we do it because we have to”. Now looking back on this conversation, I have realized that its not just women from Southern Africa who feel the strain, who was the group I was thinking of when I made the comment, but women all over. With the shift in status and power come responsibilities, but it does not necessarily equalize them…

So just because I am able to get a job and compete with men, in a way that I have never been able to before, I still may feel a need to eventually keep a home and domesticate myself in some way (learn how to cook, take care of kids, etc), while still being a member of the workforce. In some ways, the burden has become heavier to bear.

When I graduated from college in May, I started having thoughts on my future…crazy thoughts.

Hmm, when am I going to have kids?
When shall I get married?
I want to be a Foreign Service officer…can I have a family, and still be a competitor for better opportunities?

I am sure there have been women before me who have accomplished these goals, but if I were to ask them how it was, I doubt they would tell me it was easy accomplishing them. Or maybe they would…either way this article had me reflecting on my life in all kinds of ways…

I thought the article was extremely insightful, and made me think about how the journey of women has and will affect my ascent into womanhood. For the most part the information resonated with me…but one thing I disliked about it is the author tried to suggest that the increase of women who are single mothers:

Children living with a single mother:
1972: 13%
2008: 23%

Was a sign of increase of independence of women and the confidence in being the head of a household. I am not a statistician or a sociologist but that is a bit irresponsible. I know she is considering the fact that women are now adopting and birthing children on their own, but not all of them are doing this by choice…

In conclusion, it’s a good read…

A Time Special Report:
What Women Want Now

Is the American Dream Dead?

In American Dream Series on October 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm

My parents are boat-people refugees from Vietnam. After immigrating to America, despite their lack of English speaking skills, they were able to work their way up from the bottom of the social and financial ladder. They did their fair share of work. Amongst other things, my father was a cashier at McDonalds, a grocery clerk, a custodian, and a bellman; my mother — a hotel cleaning maid, a receptionist, and a nurse. Whether they were learning a different language, getting their GED, working menial jobs, or raising a family, they somehow managed to make it work. After 10 plus years of studying, training, and working my mother received a full ride to nursing school, my parents were able to get off of welfare support, and they were able to send their children to college.

Today, they have a nice house, two dogs, two educated daughters, and some savings for retirement. If I recall the standard definition of the American Dream: house with a white picket fence with kids and dogs running around in the yard –- they achieved it. Who could ask for more than secure finances and a healthy and successful family?

What a shock it was four years ago when I worked with the LA Catholic Worker to discover that the American Dream has officially died in many people’s eyes.

Click Here to read on ….