Equity & Diversity Opinion

‘Why Boys Fail’ Out in Paperback

By Richard Whitmire — September 08, 2011 1 min read
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The book has a slightly changed cover and a new introduction, which leads off:

At first glance, it might appear that the "boy troubles" are on their way to being solved. Much has changed since the original publication of Why Boys Fail nearly two years ago, and many of those changes appear positive. Two years ago, the suggestion that boys were in trouble and falling behind in school was hotly debated, with national feminist groups denying boys were in trouble. After the book was published I debated doubters at the National Press Club, at a panel at the American Enterprise Institute and on the pages of numerous education journals. Today, those counter-arguments have pretty much washed away, partly due to the recession that hit men so much harder than women. At one point, nearly 80 percent of the job losses were men, in part because they held jobs that required less education. It was a ringing reminder of how much better educated women have become. Reflecting that are the obvious gender imbalances on college campuses, with more campuses spilling over the uncomfortable threshold of 60 percent women. One speech I gave on this topic was at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where there are twice as many women as men. The dilemma has become embarrassingly visible, which makes denying the problem a losing argument. In August, 2010, The Atlantic ratcheted up the debate with a cover story titled, "The End of Men," which explored the reasons why the world seems to have tilted in favor of women. Writer Hanna Rosin pointed out something that may surprise many: These days, parents prefer having girls than boys. Why not go with the winners? The cover story illustrated that the mainstream press no longer considers the boy problems an exotic issue to debate: boy advocates vs. feminists. Rather, newspaper reporters and magazine writers have accepted the basic premise and prefer to focus on more targeted issues such as the controversies surrounding how brains are wired: Do boys and girls really learn differently and therefore need different classroom strategies or even separate classes? (A lot hinges on answering that question correctly.) There's a sense that solutions to the boy problems are in the works. Many educators worried about boys falling behind are encouraged by the proliferation of single-sex classrooms or entire schools. As of spring, 2011, more than 500 schools across the country offered single-sex education options to parents. The state of South Carolina alone was watching over 127 single-gender programs during the 2010-11 school year that involved around 20,000 students. In many urban areas, where African American boys have fallen so far behind they risk disappearing, the best and brightest hope appears to be single-sex charter schools. The all-boys high school in Chicago run by Urban Prep Academies draws national press attention for sending 100 percent of its graduates to college. All that sounds encouraging. But in truth, one fundamental fact has not changed. Every day, thousands of parents wake up and ask themselves: Why have our sons lost interest in school?

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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.