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Education Reform
Making Men in Boys Town

Boys Town has joined the ranks of educational institutions that integrate vocational training with academics. As the New York Times reports, the Nebraskan juvenile rehabilitation center, founded as an orphanage in 1917, is reinventing itself in response to the changing job market. Boys Town offered its residents a standard curriculum, and sent “as many as half of its graduating class—usually 90 to 100 students total—into the military.” But the military began accepting fewer and fewer graduates from Boys Town, and accepted none in 2013:

In his search for solutions, Jeff Peterson, the senior director of home campus operations, found that many high schools were reorienting toward producing skilled workers.

The public school system in nearby Grand Island built the $5 million Career Pathways Institute, an old warehouse now outfitted for instruction in welding, general construction, information technology and manufacturing. It was started after complaints about a lack of skilled labor for farm machinery manufacturer Case IH and other businesses.

Mr. Peterson heard similar needs. One contractor said he was “going nuts” because his workers could not identify a square; meanwhile, skilled laborers could earn a premium. “I talked to our roofing guy, talked to our construction guys. We met with union folks and trade groups,” he said. “They said the same thing: ‘If a kid can frame, he’ll start out at $3 or $4 higher than a general laborer.’”

The demand for skilled workers reaches far beyond the companies Boys Town administrators talked to. Similar needs were cited by employers included in an Atlantic piece on attempts to replicate the German apprenticeship model in the United States. This shift seems like a smart move on the part of Boys Town, and one that traditional schools could imitate in their own way. American primary education ought to be devising more programs that prepare students for futures other than those associated with the four-year residential college path. If Boys Town, and the local schools whose example it is following, are any indication, more educators are starting to realize this.

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  • Boritz

    Are young people who learn welding, framing, and roofing indoctrinated into Europe as phallocentric disease spreading invader to a greater or lesser degree than college bound students? This is the crucial question. There are substitutes for a ‘job’ but there is nothing that can take the place young members of society getting their minds’ properly configured by the time they are old enough to vote.

  • qet

    The 2015 Liberal response to this would go something like this: ” ‘Making Men’ is hate speech, a microaggression. Training men to work with their hands to mutilate natural objects to make them conform to men’s desires iis training them to violence. Men need unmaking, not making, if there is ever to be gender and social justice. Also, next time Via Meadia chooses to publish such a violent phrase as ‘Making Men,’ it must display a trigger warning, else Prof Mead will be hearing from Bard’s Title IX Compliance Officer. Moreover, to train men to be factory operatives and other commodified labor is to make them servants of the capitalist order, to work themselves to death at a barely livable wage until such time as they can be replaced by machines, leaving them to burden the higher society of capitalists and artists with their social pathologies. Instead we should be sending all men to college, because only with a college diploma can they dream the American Dream and be better off than their parents. And this must be done at public charge since such a policy is an investment that will more than pay for itself.”

    • FriendlyGoat

      “Making Men” is really nothing more than assuring that the economy has job openings waiting for every 20-year-old male which pays enough that he can thriftily support a young wife and a baby. We liberals are happy to “condition” that statement with, IF he stays off drugs, IF he applies himself to training, and IF he shows up on time with a decent attitude in his head for a workplace

      Most young men can be attracted to being responsible citizens if the pathway is open. Most of them would like to please and provide for a good girl if given the chance. Physical occupations are FINE if they actually are feasible for providing food, health care, a modest place to live and a car to get around (including to work) in—-and if they progress to being economically workable at 30, 40, 50 and 60 too.

      Young men who simply cannot please their ladies, their folks and themselves in these ways are very frustrated and no one should be surprised when they act out in counter-productive ways.

      • Anthony

        Simply said and quite honest FG.

  • Josephbleau

    MIKE CHECK!! Young men will not be crucified on a cross of pink! Men will not not work ARE WE NOT MEN! Man is a complement of WOman. MIKE CHECK!

  • ToursLepantoVienna

    This is a craaaaaazy idea.

    Everyone knows our society would be better served by having yet more semi-literate Gender Studies and English Lit grads pouring cappuccinos.

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