To the Editor:
Recent news reports like those cited by Lyn Mikel Brown, Meda Chesney-Lind, and Nan Stein in their Commentary “What About the Boys?” (June 7, 2006) have lent credence to claims of a national “boy crisis” in education. Some critics have blamed Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, as the cause of the supposed crisis and called for its repeal. Others have recommended single-sex education as a solution. I join with the American Association of University Women in maintaining that the real story is about girls doing better, not boys doing worse.
New research by Education Sector refutes claims that there is a boy crisis in education and that Title IX is the cause of it. The Washington-based group has found that the perception that boys are in crisis comes from inadequate research, sloppy analysis, and discomfort with the fact that although the average boy is doing better than before, the average girl has gotten ahead of him.
Opponents of Title IX have created the troubling myth that expanded educational opportunities for girls have come at the expense of boys. To view education in a “boys vs. girls” fashion oversimplifies a much more complicated issue. We also must consider a variety of factors, including race, geography, and economic status. Gender distinctions are not the determining factor. Sadly, pitting one gender against the other misses the real point, and could lead us to false solutions.
Title IX has allowed girls and women to make great strides in the classroom and on the athletic fields, but attempts to undermine the law continue. As we celebrate its 34th anniversary, just passed on June 23, we must recommit ourselves to the enforcement of this critical law that has changed the lives of women and girls.
Leadership and Training Institute
American Association of
A version of this article appeared in the July 26, 2006 edition of Education Week as Story: Girls Doing Better, Not Boys Doing Worse