Sara Mead, who has argued against the idea that there is any “boy crisis” in our education system, criticized IWF’s latest paper by Krista Kafer for making the case that school choice is the solution to all our education ills. Adam Schaeffer of the Cato Institute does a good job rebutting this criticism, demonstrating how the lack of competition in our education system is the root of many different problems we see in student outcomes and explaining that no proponent of school choice claims that school choice will ensure that every child becomes an ivy-league candidate, but simply knows that diverse market based systems will do better than any government monopoly.
I’ll just add that Mead obviously hasn’t done her homework about IWF’s position on the abstinence education vs. traditional sex ed debate; she assumes that everyone who isn’t a part of the liberal establishment wants to mandate that abstinence only is taught in schools. That’s way off-base. IWF doesn’t think that government should make decisions about what should be taught in schools. The debate about sex education is a perfect example of why we need choice. Government bureaucrats shouldn’t be deciding what and when children should be taught about such matters. What’s appropriate for one kid might not be for another. That’s why parents, not administrators, should select the child’s education environment and another reason why we support school choice.
The most frustrating part of her blog post, however, is that she tries to paint IWF as being “anti-woman” because we acknowledge differences between the sexes, including that on average men are likely to be better at some things while women, on average, will be better at others. She writes: “For IWF and likeminded groups, somehow whenever women get the short end of a stick, that’s because of brain differences, and since it’s because of brain differences that means it’s ok and society shouldn’t do anything to help them. But when men get the short end of the stick on something, that’s also because of brain differences but in this case requires that we automatically declare a crisis and take action to address the problem.”
That’s nonsense of course — I would never expect that men will fully catch up with women in areas of our strength such as writing and reading comprehension and don’t think we need programs to push college men into the majors that are heavily skewed toward women. The difference is that no one is pushing these policies designed to manufacture this outcome–the federal government isn’t dumping millions of dollars into programs each year predicated on the idea that boys are discriminated against in our education system, but they are dumping millions into programs such programs for girls. The whole point is that we need an education system recognize that students are unique individuals who deserve more options that one-size-fits-all government run schools.