Education Opinion

How the Pushback Movement Views the Verbal Scores

By Richard Whitmire — April 27, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Finally, the “pushback movement” -- those who scoff at the idea that boys are faring badly in school -- has an answer for the steep verbal score gaps recently reported by the Center for Education Policy.

Actually, the answer from these leading feminist academics -- Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett, both of whom I once debated -- is a little difficult to understand. You’ll have to read it yourself. Roughly translated, I think their argument is:

1. The gaps are minor.
2. If # 1 isn’t true, then serious gaps exist only among minority boys.
3. If #1 and #2 fail to explain away the issue, then those of us who write about the gaps are making things worse by encouraging educators to “dumb down” reading material for boys. Worse, we (my work is cited) encourage mothers to steer their sons away from pursuits that involve verbal skills.

Then the authors make the mistake of quoting Lise Eliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain. Eliot proves that the brain differences between boys and girls are minor, they say.

Opps. Apparently they overlooked the “common ground” commentary Eliot and I wrote for Education Week arguing that the verbal gaps and both serious and broad. What was done more than a decade ago for girls to boost their math and science abilities now needs to be done for boys to boost their literacy skills, we argue.

As I’ve written before, Rivers and Barnett need to get away from their campuses more often. I suggest starting with the world right outside their doors.

The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.