The New York Times has a column today by Judith Warner lauding Bill and Melinda Gates for establishing a foundation called Education Sector.

The first act of the new foundation? Debunking the boy crisis.

Christina Hoff Sommers comments

“Education Sector, a new Washington think tank established this year by the Bill & Melinda Gates and other leading foundations, describes itself as an ‘honest broker of evidence in key education debates.’ But its first big study, ‘The Evidence Suggests Otherwise: Truth About Boys and Girls,’ is deficient in this virtue.

“The report, written by policy analyst Sara Mead, denies that American boys are in trouble academically. “The real story,” says Ms. Mead, “is not bad news about boys doing worse; it’s good news about girls doing better.” So why do so many fret about boys doing poorly? Ms. Mead explains: “The idea that women might actually surpass men in some areas seems hard for many people to swallow.” She also hopes that the nation can have a reasonable “conversation” about gender issues “without unfairly undermining the gains girls have made in recent decades.”
One looks in vain in Ms. Mead’s report for any indication that anyone is undermining girls. She seems to think that concern for boys means shortchanging girls. But it does not–because education is not a zero sum game.

“From the study’s title, one might think that it contains evidence that boys are not languishing academically. It doesn’t. In fact Ms. Mead concedes that vast numbers of boys are doing poorly. She acknowledges that more boys than girls drop out; that girls have higher aspirations and take more rigorous academic programs. The number of boys diagnosed with disabilities, she says, ‘has exploded in the past 30 years. She admits that “high school boys’ achievement is declining in most subjects.” And, yes, she says, it is true that our colleges are now 57% female.”

Please read the whole piece.