Are boys falling behind in American schools?  Judith Kleinfeld provides the answer in a piece on National Review Online.  She takes on a recent report claiming that the boy crisis in overblown and looks at the real number that prove that there is certainly cause for concern:

Education Sector, a newly launched educational think tank purporting to bring truth and fresh ideas to educational debates, published a non-peer reviewed report, “The Truth About Boys and Girls,” to widespread and uncritical media attention.

“First, the report argues, the rhetoric about boys’ problems is overblown. They offer as evidence a headline from Newsweek on January 30, 2006. It reads, “The Boy Crisis. At every level of education, they’re falling behind. What to do?” Education Sector has created a straw man to blow down. Headline writers, as everyone knows, use words like “crisis” to hype a story. No one is “hysterical,” as the organization claims. They are bewildered.

“Second, the report argues, boys as a group are not in trouble. This claim requires fancy dancing, to wit:

“There’s no doubt that some groups of boys – particularly Hispanic and black boys and boys from low-income homes – are in real trouble,” writes Sara Mead. “But the predominant issues for them are race and class, not gender.”

“So which boys are not in “real trouble”? The answer is one “advantaged” group – white boys from middle class families.

“But these advantaged boys are in trouble too. At the end of high school, almost a quarter (23 percent) of the white sons of college educated parents scored “Below Basic” in reading achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in contrast to only 7 percent of their female counterparts. In writing, the gender gap among the “advantaged” was even wider.

“A young man who scores “below basic” in reading and writing at the end of high school is essentially illiterate. He cannot read a newspaper article and get the main point. He will be in real trouble when he hits the job market in the global, information-age economy.”

This issue is too important to ignore.  Don’t miss reading the whole article here.