September 2010 Archives

Sometimes I hesitate about blogging on this issue: it has nothing to do with the problem of boys falling behind in school. And yet, the national women's advocacy groups insist it does. Why worry about boys when women are paid less? That argument may be working ... something has to explain why the federal government refuses to even study the school gender gaps....


This from the Square Dots blog. Here's the trend at Cairo University: 1959--> Men = 68 (65%), Women = 36 (35%) 1978--> Men = 39 (34%), Women = 74 (66%) 1995--> Men = 36 (35%), Women = 81 (78%) 2004--> Men = 19 (17%), Women = 91 (83%)...


Things seem to be leaning that way. The new conventional wisdom: girls do fine in any school; boys need a boy-oriented environment. And there's more here....


Newsweek takes a look at the campus gender gaps and dips heavily into the what-it-means-to-be-a-man debate, which has always made me a little uncomfortable. I'm a reporter, not a clinical psychologist, so I'll stay focused on schools that level the gender gaps. In those schools, profiled in Why Boys Fail, the 'manliness' debate rarely surfaces. The goal should be to teach boys to read at early ages and keep them competitive with the accelerated literacy curriculum....


A look at the gaps by the International Business Times. fyi to the author: the military can't explain the gaps; nor can the number of men choosing the trades over college....


If that's what young readers want, that's what they'll get. Those of us who worry about what's lost in the interaction between paper and imagination will keep worrying....


Take note of what the teachers at this Massachusetts high school did to turn around learning there -- incorporate literacy skills into every subject. That's what I saw in the schools I profiled in Why Boys Fail that worked as well for boys as girls....


Chadwell's newsletter out of South Carolina on single-gender education is a national treasure. South Carolina plunged far deeper into this experiment than any other state and Chadwell does a great job trying to keep South Carolina teachers up to speed on best practices. My suggestion: the federal DOE should hire Chadwell to keep tabs on the national trend. If the DOE continues to duck single-gender research, the least it can do is monitor what's happening....


A disincentive for the Obama administration to launch any efforts to address the academic gender gap....


Thanks to Greg Toppo for spotting this one. As reported by The Onion....


That's found at the College of Charleston, where there are twice as many women. Given the presence of the Citadel, where the guys are anxious to meet College of Charleston women, it sounds like the college is avoiding the "operational sex ratio" problems I've seen on other campuses, where men take advantage of their sparse numbers....


Waiting for Superman is sucking up all the oxygen, but Beyond the Bricks, which will focus on black inner city children, especially boys, is worth a look as well. Here's a trailer. And one more....


Anything written by professor/preschool author David Kirp is worthy of a read....


When researching Why Boys Fail I was struck by the persistent argument I heard from leaders of different women's rights group: even if boys are in trouble, their difficulties are negated by the pay gap suffered by women. I never saw the logical thread, but they did, and therefore the pay gap debate has relevance to the boys issue. In today's Times, Christina Hoff Sommers does a nice job laying out the case against the latest legislative initiative promoted by women's rights groups (and the Obama White House, which is facing tough mid-terms and knows exactly how many more women ...


From a familiar critic, Dan Willingham....


Sounds like a reasonable program, although I'm guessing Leonard Sax might quibble with the lockstep academic instruction. Still, I want to see the beef -- real research into what actually works....


On the CommitmentNow site....


For those following the debate over whether we send too many young people to college (read: do we really have to worry about fewer men than women graduating from college?) here are the numbers: yes, it pays....


Cynthia Tucker, columnist for the Atlanta papers, has a good analysis on the "yawning" reaction to the recent Schott Foundation report on the high dropout rate among black males. She's right: the solutions offered up by the report were too simplistic and doctrinaire....


The New York Times lays out the political realities headed in the mid-term elections....


Two views on this increasingly popular proposal. From England. And from Scotland....


Michelle Obama gets weepy as she announces a White House mentoring program for girls. On what index are girls doing as badly as boys?...


The math behind the "equal pay" campaign may be sketchy, with economists telling us very little of the pay gap has to do with actual discrimination. But just for a moment, set that aside, and consider Valerie Jarrett's argument in the Post today: Women need to earn more because with so many men losing their jobs they have become sole supporters of the family. You have to admit: this argument has appeal....


The most-discussed difference between boys and girls is the male advantage in spatial reasoning, the ability to conjure up mental images of an object. Turns out that gap can be "trained" away....


Interesting story out of Oregon indicates the gender gaps may be widening further -- an increase in the number of girls taking the test, an indicator of college aspirations, accompanied by a slight drop in the number of boys taking the test. Nationally, far more girls than boys take the test, especially poor and minority girls, which skews the results and guarantees that national feminist groups will use the SAT scores as "proof" that boys are doing just fine. From the Oregon article: Susanne Smith, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Education, said the decline is alarming when coupled with ...


From the Southern Poverty Law Center: In 18 urban districts examined more closely, the average suspension rate for all students was 22.2 percent, double the average for all districts. The study found that 175 middle schools in these districts suspended more than one third of their black male students. Of those, 84 suspended more than half the black males enrolled. Schools with high rates of suspension were also found for other racial groups....


Once again, the Brits outdo us in reporting on gender gap issues. This holds true in the U.S. as well. Thousands of mostly black boys are shunted into special education only because they were badly taught. Can't read at grade level? ask the educators? Can't possibly be our fault. Let's put him in special education....


As this Inside Higher Ed article points out, this is a natural progression. When fewer men than women enter college and fewer men than women earn degrees once in college, this is to be expected. Colleges are bit players in the gender gaps. K-12 schools, especially elementary schools, are the major players. Not that anyone has told them, of course. National education leaders treat this issue like a bear trap: don't even think about getting close. That explains why President Obama delivered a graduation speech at Hampton University and somehow never seemed to notice that his audience was a sea ...


Just for a moment, let's pretend that U.S. educators suddenly realized that the gender gap is being caused by literacy deficits among boys. Just a fantasy, of course, given that the U.S. Department of Education appears to be allergic to any studies involving gender issues. But again, let's pretend. How long would it take it reverse the problem? Very long, according to this high quality research nicely summarized in Education Week....


Schools have become too risk averse, says this British education official. What's needed is more of a culture reflected in "The Dangerous Book for Boys."...


Delusions of Gender follows the same path of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, in disputing the idea that boy brains and girls brains are significantly different. The Washington Post reviews the book today. Oddly, the Post review treats the issue as a philosophical issue. The reality is that hundreds of schools now embrace brain-based learning styles in their single-sex classrooms. This entire experiment got launched without a shred of research by the U.S. Department of Education. I try to stay neutral on this one; I'm a reporter,not a neuroscientist. I've seen boys make progress in single-sex classrooms that use ...


Pretty important question, considering the number of public schools now experimenting with single-sex classes. The science on this question is by no means settled. Here's a UK author weighing in with "Delusions of Gender."...


A columnist offers her advice on turning around the 'end of men.'...


When teachers aren't trained to teach reading, the students who struggle the most with reading skills suffer the most. We're talking about boys....


Interesting research out of Australia: boys sent to "special" schools at six times the rate of girls. Those schools are dubbed "a fast track to prison." I'd be surprised if the U.S. numbers would look any different. Check out the interesting charts in this article....


Smartly written piece in the Independent (the best commentary on the boy troubles continues to come from England) on why young women are outdoing young men. From the piece: I have male friends, too. Some are doing just fine: they have jobs, they've moved out of parents' homes, they are the lucky few. Many, however, aren't. Of those male peers who are succeeding, many appear to have benefited from the arbitrary advantages one might expect. Wealthy parents, posh voices: these are the armbands of the successful young male graduate. Such attributes will boost anybody's prospects, but they are far more ...


Interesting review of the book at mensnewsdaily.com. From the review: ...Whitmire is at his best in laying out heartening news of huge strides made by educators who do tackle the issues head on. In Australia, reforms were instituted at one rural school after it was discovered that 75 percent of the girls were reaching the school's benchmark goals and only 30 percent of the boys were. The changes included special literary intervention for lagging students, a formal phonics program, teaching the staff to break down learning tasks into "chunks" to reach boys with limited organizational skills, starting single-sex classes, ...


Well, young single women anyway. Feminists hate this development because it draws attention away from their core issue -- the "pay gap" where men in (roughly) the same job out earn women. The operative word there is "roughly," which is why I stay away from that debate. This Slate writer goes right to the "pay gap" issue and then explains away the fact that young women are out earning young men only because they are better educated. Ummm...Isn't that the real point? Yes, they are better educated, which leads us the true bottom line, one that she doesn't get ...


Already, we have a ninth grade "bulge" full of boys unready for high school. Now, in Arizona, we'll have a third grade bulge, triggered by the all the boys unable to master the required literacy skills....


The belief that boys and girls learn in different ways provides the foundation for the single-sex schooling movement. Is it true? Although this article doesn't explore gender separately, the skepticism is clear....


Economists have been clear about this for some time. And yet we continue to see arguments about why we shouldn't worry about the higher education gender gap. Don't we always need more male plumbers and car mechanics. I'm still waiting for that argument to be made by a mechanic or plumber, rather than some think tank conservative who sent his son to Dartmouth....


What Samuelson misses in this Washington Post commentary is the large attitude gap by gender. As my book documents, that divide (high school seniors indicating their college aspirations) is only about 25 years old. Before that time, boys and girls had roughly the same aspirations. Today, there's a chasm in educational attitudes. This is the key to understanding the "boy troubles." Whatever's causing it occurred only in the last 25 years, which means most of the usual suspects offered up for why boys are faltering can't stand up to scrutiny. If they didn't emerge in that time period, they aren't ...


New girls-only public school opens in Denver. The reporter compares how boys fare in literacy compared to how girls perform in math and science. It should be noted that the gaps there are very uneven. Boys tend to be far behind girls in reading and writing skills. On math and science, it's more of tie, depending on which test you're considering....


The Brits continue to turn in the best gender gap reporting....


Academic acceleration in the early grades has pushed literacy skills a full two years ahead, compared to 25 years ago. And that's why boys are struggling in school. A combination of boys being unready to absorb those skills -- and schools failing to adjust teaching methods to help them keep up -- is creating the gender gaps we see building in college graduation rates....


Another example of the "boy troubles" being a bigger issue in Britain than in the United States, despite the fact the gender gaps are roughly the same. This kind of coverage of the issue appears regularly in the British press....


Zero-tolerance discipline policies wreaking havoc among minority boys, finds task force. From the report: The report noted that the four-year graduation rate for African American males is 45 percent, and for Latino males is 43 percent. That "is staggering," Irizarry said. It drew heavily on data compiled by Project U-Turn, the city's major anti-dropout initiative, and worked with the Philadelphia Youth Network to organize groups of students and disengaged youth for focus groups....


Or just a statistical quirk? This is not exactly news. We've known for some time that women in major cities outearn men. I consider this look at unmarried young women as somewhat significant. It reflects the reality that women are better educated. The long term implications, I suspect, are more personal than economic -- a shortage of 'marriageable mates'....


And the conclusions are not always what you might expect....


As a news story, the "boy troubles" continue to be a prominent issue in Britain, despite the fact the gaps there are no worse then here. Interesting. Especially prominent in the British coverage are the problems seen among boys from working class white families....


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