I read Mr. Keith Meeuwsen's op-ed in the March 29 Spotlight (see "What will it take to finally achieve equality?") and, I have to tell you, I'm surprised that a teacher would teach such negativity. The student, on the other hand, is incredible. She is absolutely right. It's hard work and dedication that will get you ahead in this country.
I worked construction for almost 50 years. The last 30 of those years I was in management. One of my hardest responsibilities was finding high-quality people to do the work. The construction industry is not unlike most businesses in that competition for customers is fierce.
When I hired a new apprentice, it was hard work that got that apprentice through the five years it took to become the journeyman, and then it was hard work and dedication that eventually got that journeyman to the status of foreman. Those foreman not only had to be hard-working and dedicated, they needed to be able to work well with our customers and other trades.
Without these top-quality people working hard to get to the top of their industry, the company I worked for could not exist.
This kind of person is extremely hard to find, so, when I found one, I did everything I could to keep them. A successful company cannot afford to hire or lay off based on race or gender. A company must have the top people in their industry if they want to be successful.
Mr. Meeuwsen doesn't seem to understand that the overwhelming majority of the workforce in this country keeps their jobs and are promoted because of performance, work ethics and dedication, not seniority. Nor do they ever achieve tenure. And most have probably been passed over for a promotion they thought they deserved.
If teachers really want to help these kids succeed, they should help guide them to careers that are most suitable to their abilities. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. You wouldn't tell a 5' 6" tall boy to pursue a basketball career and you shouldn't lead a 120-pound girl to certain construction jobs where she is competing with 220-pound men. While there are been successes under these circumstances, the odds against success are overwhelming.
All you need to do is take a look around. There are thousands of success stories and the opportunities are limitless. Women entered the workforce much later than men, so they have a lot of catching up to do (and they are rapidly catching up), but anyone who thinks things will slow down so they can catch up will be very disappointed.
It sounds like the young woman Mr. Meeuwsen is referring to understands what it takes, and will hit the ground running. With her attitude she will not only catch up but will outperform others in her chosen field, and it won't be long before she's sitting behind a desk, interviewing and hiring.
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