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It's a (Weak) Start

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 or white, male or female, have to understand why boys are failing.

The schools I profile in Why Boys Fail that succeed with boys, including black boys, don't rely on the strategy of recruiting more black males. Having a black role model in schools is great, but relying on that as a strategy is iffy. Aside from the reality that black male college graduates have far more lucrative opportunities than teaching, thereby limiting the supply, the research suggests that the race/gender of the teacher at the front of the classroom makes only modest differences.

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