June 2010 Archives

Michael Sadowski reviews the literature on the reading gaps and offers some guidance on boosting the reading abilities of boys. He also brings up something I should have included in the book, the 'Matthew Effect.' Most researchers agree that on average, boys develop the skills associated with reading and writing 12 to 24 months later than girls. Attending to the possible difficulties some boys (and girls) may have with reading early on is crucial, Snow says, to avoid what psychologist Keith Stanovich has called the "Matthew Effect," in which strong readers move further and further ahead, while early deficits ...


Any discussion of why college gender gaps matter, or don't matter, has to include two considerations: the low percentages of women in some hard sciences and the paucity of women emerging as business risk takers. Both those considerations make a difference in this country's economic competitiveness. Business Week takes a cut at the entrepreneurial question. Only seven percent of the business startups drawing venture capital are started by women....


A lot of the critical focus on successful urban charter schools has focused on turnover: as some students drop out are they replaced by better students, thereby inflating the graduation/college-acceptance rates? That comes up with KIPP schools a lot, but also with schools such as Chicago's Urban Prep. I'm sure there's some truth to that, but anyone who has spent time in these schools knows that's a minor issue. These schools are fulfilling America's promise to give each child, including urban boys, an adequate education. Maybe the numbers are small, but they are important first steps. Ideally, traditional public ...


Why is this taking so long at the federal Department of Education? NYC is rolling out school interventions aimed at minority boys, an acknowledgment of the obvious: the problem of poor academic achievement doesn't always sort out by race/income, which is the only way states and the feds have tried to measure the issue. It unfolds by gender, as well, which explains why twice as many black women as men earn bachelors degrees. This is really not that hard to understand ... but apparently the issue crosses too many PC boundaries for the feds to act....


Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with his entire department, continues to ignore the school gender gaps. As far as I know, there's no research in the pipeline regarding either the gap or "solutions" such as single-sex classrooms. Now, however, Duncan has picked a "solution" without even mentioning the problem: putting more black men into classrooms. That's a good idea. It certainly can't hurt. South Carolina's Call Me Mister program is worth a look. I spoke before them recently and challenged the aspiring teachers by saying that placing a black male face in the classroom is insufficient. All teachers, whether black ...


As the Washington Post points out, there's been a sharp rise in the percent of women over 40 who don't have children. The result of better job opportunities for women? That's the theory raised in the article. What never gets raised in the marriageable mate issue. How many of these women never found a comparably educated male suitable for marriage? The marriageable mate issue is so new, and so sensitive, that reporters rarely raise it. The New York Times published a Sunday magazine cover story on the rise of educated white women using sperm banks ... and never once raised the ...


Caryl Rivers offers her skepticism about The Atlantic's piece, The End of Men. Yes, men still hold most of the power levers in business and politics, and probably will into the near future. But how relevant is that argument if the country fails to field its best team, including a lot of men who need a college degree just to get to the starting line? And how relevant is that if women start shunning marriage because they can't find comparably educated mate? These college imbalances are not the minor issue she makes them out to be....


Overall student gains in New York's large-scale experiment to transform failing urban schools hold up for minority boys as well, according to this MDRC report. New York holds a leading edge in the experiment to build "portfolio" public schools of choice. Washington DC, under Michelle Rhee's leadership, is headed in the same direction....


Newsweek takes a broad look at the issue and notes recent research. To me, the most significant take-away lesson from the surge in single-sex classrooms and schools is that school districts are finally realizing boys are in trouble. But does that mean single-sex classrooms are the answer? Not until we get better research on how to conduct them effectively....


RiShawn Biddle in the American Spectator on the reading crisis among urban boys....


If University of New Hampshire professor Thomas Newkirk, author of Misreading Masculinity," is leading the movement, I'm on the bandwagon. From the AP story: At a time when people spend much of their time skimming websites, text messages and e-mails, an English professor at the University of New Hampshire is making the case for slowing down as a way to gain more meaning and pleasure out of the written word. Thomas Newkirk isn't the first or most prominent proponent of the so-called "slow reading" movement, but he argues it's becoming all the more important in a culture and educational system ...


Sara Mead pulls together a complete package. The Hirsch/Pondiscio piece already commented on isn't the only insightful piece in the magazine....


This time in Prince William County outside Washington. Wouldn't it be nice if these schools had some national research to guide them? But no, they are forced to find their own way....


John Tierney has a good column in the Times that summarizes the research behind the math/science gender gap. Actually, I need to be careful about generalizing about those gaps. Women make up more than half of the biological sciences majors. And from the PBS Nova show, we have these two female scientists taking a different tack. I think Tierney is right to say there's no legislative solution to the gaps. And if these mandatory workshops do arise you can bet we'll see more silliness such as Gender Bias Bingo. My question last time the game arose: If I stand ...


Life is just unfair that way. Here's HIrsch and Robert Pondiscio in The American Prospect, explaining in one succinct essay why Reading First failed. They are too polite to point that out -- but I will. They don't reference the boys issue, but they don't have to. Reading First was designed for high poverty schools where boys were far behind in literacy skills. It was supposed to rescue them, but didn't....


Charlotte Allen in the Washington Times writing about the investigation into college admissions preferences. I wish I shared her assumption that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is out to discover the actual facts. I still don't understand why the commission didn't select the College of William & Mary. Here's a public university where the director of admissions has openly embraced gender preferences..."We're not called the College of Mary and Mary," he once said. And yet it didn't make the list, in spite of being in the same geographic range of the others on the list....


That's the argument of some who say there's no need to worry about the gender mismatches on college campuses. Not true, according to this report from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Look at the shift in B.A.-required jobs from 1973 to 2018, a rise from 9 percent to 23 percent....


Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, the chief architects for the "pushback movement," those saying boys are doing just fine in school, take on the New York City gifted gap, citing evidence that boys are more likely than girls to be privately tested for gifted programs. I don't have to hold a professorship to know the answer to that one. Just being a parent with two kids who attended academically competitive public schools is sufficient. You have your kids privately tested because they weren't accepted for the gifted program by the test administered by the school district. And guess who's ...


The postponement of adulthood for women comes off as logical in this article. For the guys, maybe not so much. Maybe it's logical, or maybe it's just failure to launch. From the article: More people in their 20s are also living with their parents. About one-fourth of 25-year-old white men lived at home in 2007 -- before the latest recession -- compared with one-fifth in 2000 and less than one-eighth in 1970....


I'll believe that we no longer have to worry about women avoiding tech careers when I see those Silicon Valley cubicles for code writers stuffed with women. Still, this article about female web entrepreneurs is hopeful....


Not only are little girls dominating the gifted classes in New York City, but grownup girls are dominating the valedictorian rosters. Could one thing be leading to another? Naaaah...probably just a coincidence....


Education Week's Diploma Count report adds up the most current figures: two-thirds of boys graduate from high school -- a rate that's 7 points lower than the female rate....


Want an example of how more intense reading and writing standards have been pushed into the lower grades, affecting boys more than girls? Here's an Education Week essay by writing expert Thomas Newkirk, author of Misreading Masculinity, a must-read for anyone studying the gender gap. The new common core writing standard for second graders, quoted in his commentary: "Write informative and explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, present similar information together using headers to signal groupings when appropriate, and provide a concluding sentence or section." Comments Newkirk: While a few students ...


I continue to like the research that comes out of the U.K. on this issue....


In The End of Men, Hanna Rosin lays out the international case for why parents, societies and businesses are favoring women. Simply put, in a postindustrial society women make a better fit. When parents practice sex selection, they chose girls, not boys. Given yesterday's primary news, where women are beginning to take their proper place in politics, Rosin's piece is timely. From the article: We've all heard about the collegiate gender gap. But the implications of that gap have not yet been fully digested. Women now earn 60 percent of master's degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, ...


A reminder of this resource for anyone interested in a broad look at boys' issues, including health issues....


This Hechinger report about the diminished expectations for the children of the Great Recession does a good job laying out trends ranging from education attainment to job possibilities. But there's no mention of the obvious: males are especially impacted. With nearly 80 percent of the layoffs involving men, and projections that men will fall even farther behind in education -- with the percentage of female enrollment in four-year colleges rising to 59 percent -- this seems like an issue worth covering. But these reports rarely take on that controversial topic. That's unfortunate, because we're all going to be affected, starting ...


SEDL, the nonprofit education think tank, offers logical suggestions for steering more females into math and science. Notice the absence of any conspiracy theories about why females have avoided those fields....


The New York Times columnist is right about what Larry Summers actually said, and he's right to be skeptical about assuming feminists are right when they suggest a conspiracy theory explains why so few women pursue STEM majors and (persist with) STEM careers. It would be nice if a simple villain were behind the fact that only about 20 percent of the STEM majors are women. Unfortunately, it's a bit more complicated. This is a fight I prefer to duck. It's relevant to the boys issue only because if women are to dominate universities we have a national economic interest ...


Writing in New York Magazine, Rosin looks at the gender gaps in light of the recent New York Times piece on girls dominating the early-grades gifted classes in New York City. The answer seems clear: When you push more intensive verbal skills to the early grades, where girls can handle them better than boys, and then measure for "giftedness" using a test heavy on verbal skills .... I mean, should anyone be surprised?...


Good suggestions from Slate, ranging from "The Lightning Thief" to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."...


Teachers here doing their best to level the gender reading gap. True, boys have always tested behind girls in reading. But in previous generations that mattered less. Today, college has become the new high school, and in college literacy skills are survival skills, regardless of your major....


Diverse Issues In Higher Education reviews the literature on gender gaps, including Why Boys Fail....


That's the question raised in this Center for American Progress piece. Once again, however, I cringe when I see the pay gap tossed into the issue. That gap is an important issue, but not for the reasons cited. Women choose different college studies and pursue different careers and different pathways within careers. If women are going to dominate universities we need to persuade more women to take on science/math/engineering careers -- and launch more start-up businesses. When that happens the pay gaps will shrink to nothing....


A good argument is made in this Inside Higher Education piece that pushing more non-traditional college goers into pursuing college is a mistake -- college doesn't lead to a life in the fancy burbs. But the writer totters on some flimsy logic. Sure, many new jobs don't require a four-year degree, but most do require some level of post high school study. College, in some form, has become the new high school. And far too many men are missing that message....


Interesting book worth a look. This book and two others (Why Boys Fail being one of them) are reviewed in Youth Today. The review: Book Review Saving Boys What can be done to prevent them from failing? (June 1, 2010) View Comments Add Comment by Sara Fritz Wes Moore Two African-American boys are born into poverty in Baltimore. By coincidence, both are named Wes Moore. Both are attracted to the culture of the streets, but they take different paths. One turns out to be a Rhodes Scholar; the other is convicted of murder and spends most of his adult life ...


Andrew Sum from Northeastern University parses the layoff numbers for Massachusetts by gender, another attempt to assess the damage done to male employment. If this kind of hit doesn't convince more men to take higher education seriously, what will?...


The growing gender gaps in higher education, laid out by degree....


Take a look at this photo of the top ten graduates from a Texas high school -- they are all male, exactly the opposite of what you see elsewhere in the country. Officials there are under no illusion, however. They acknowledge they are an anomaly....


That's what the New York Times reporter keep asking, but a better question would be: why is anyone bothering to ask the question when the answer is so obvious. The world has become more verbal; boys haven't. Any test relying on verbal skills, especially a test given at that early age, is going to favor girls....


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