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Portland Parents and Educators Discuss the Boy Troubles

Interesting article in the Oregonian. I'd love to see reporters in other cities do the same.

From the article.

This is a new world, with major consequences for family stability. Yet it's uncomfortable to discuss, because it implies a certain male vulnerability. It's also hard to move beyond the zero-sum thinking that boys can succeed only at girls' expense, and vice versa.

I've heard some promising conversations in recent months. At the federal level, President Obama is under pressure to establish a White House Council on Boys to Men, on par with its council for women and girls. This council would deal with challenges related to school, jobs, fatherlessness and poor health.

At the state level, Oregon is focusing more on reducing its dropout rates and improving vocational education -- two changes that would help at-risk boys. Lawmakers just passed a bill encouraging schools to offer more career and technical education. Granted, the bill was modest and won't offset the state's mediocre school funding (or lawmakers' unwillingness to pass major spending reforms). But it was a step in the right direction.

School districts are trying to change, too. Julie Plato, a first-grade teacher in Portland Public Schools, says she's increasingly worried about boys. She has devoured books on the subject, and she plans to spend some of her summer finding new ways to engage her students.

"I am slowly making some changes that I feel will benefit the boys in my classroom without hurting the girls," she said.

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