The Other Charlotte has already put up an insightful post on the latest “Boys Crisis? What Boys Crisis?” study to emerge from Washington think tank-dom (see “What War on Boys? My Kids Go to Private School,” today below).
My problem with the study, produced by Education Sector, a not-exactly nonpartisan think tank affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council, is that if you read between the lines of the gushy news report by the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews, you’ll see that the study kind of admits that, well, um, there actually is a problem with underachievement by boys in public school.
For example, here’s one piece of data from the study:
“For several decades, school systems have worked to steer girls into more skilled math and science classes. Now girls in high school appear to be better prepared for college than boys, the report said.”
To me, that says, “And boys in high school aren’t so well-prepared for college as girls.”
And then there’s this:
“Craig Jerald, an educational consultant who has analyzed trends for the federal government and the newspaper Education Week, said that…’there are a few troubling statistics and trends that deserve further investigation.’ He noted a huge gap in writing skills between girls and boys, bad results in reading among older boys, and a sharp drop in high school seniors’ positive feelings toward school that is worse among girls than boys.”
So, high school boys are doing way poorer than high school girls, in, let’s see…math, science, writing, reading, and attitudes toward school. That adds up to a boys crisis to me.
But Education Sector (and, apparently Post reporter Mathews) prefers a Pollyanna analysis: Let’s look at the glass as half-full! As in this:
“But, [the study] adds, both sexes are taking more college-level courses, such as calculus, than ever.”
Isn’t that nice? And then there’s this:
“[The study] concludes that much of the pessimism about young males seems to derive from inadequate research, sloppy analysis and discomfort with the fact that although the average boy is doing better, the average girl has gotten ahead of him.
“‘The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse,’ the report says, ‘it’s good news about girls doing better.'”
Well, that’s looking at the bright side!
Now, if we only could get those nasty ol’ conservatives to stop using that word “crisis” and just forget about boys and focus on how wonderfully girls are doing. As in this bit of good news noted by the report:
“The report notes that boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities. Two-thirds of students in special education classes are male. But, it notes, ‘the number of girls with disabilities has also grown rapidly in recent decades, meaning this is not just a boy issue.'”
Yay, more girls with learning disabilities! These edu-wonks sound like those feminists who cheered a few years ago at the newst that there were now more female armed robbers and first-degree murderers.