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Stop the Presses! Arne Duncan Speaks on the Boy Troubles

Okay, a quick qualification: it was to a Canadian reporter, part of the Globe and Mail mega-project now playing out. Definitely worth a read. Is it possible no U.S. reporter has ever asked him about the gender gaps?

In Chicago, Duncan was surrounded by good research on the issue from the Consortium on Chicago School Research (that's where the term "genderization of race" first appeared). The college prep high schools there are desperately short on guys. The boys troubles are hard to miss.

This Canadian interview is important stuff. I've never heard Duncan opine on the issue. His preferred solution: recruit more minority males to teach. From the article:

I would go to some of my elementary schools in Chicago and there wouldn't be a single male there. I think all of our children need a variety of role models and mentors, but particularly our young boys and our young boys of colour. In the U.S. today, less than 2 per cent, less than one in 50 of our teachers is a black male. If you put black males and Latino males together it's about 3.5 per cent of our teaching work force. That's simply not good enough.

Well, that's certainly not a bad thing. I've seen the emphasis on male teachers work well in some inner city charter schools. But my sense is while male teachers will give you great role models they don't do much to boost academic achievement. I profile schools in Why Boys Fail that succeed with boys while employing a nearly all female staff. For the most part, it's about classroom instruction, not the gender of the teacher delivering the instruction.

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