Illinois Loop
Your guide to education in Illinois
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The Illinois Loop website is no longer updated on a a regular basis. However, since many of the links and articles have content and perspectives that are just as valid today, we are keeping this website online for parents, teachers and others researching school issues and solutions.
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-- Kevin C. Killion, writer, editor and webmaster


Gender Bias

    Both boys and girls are hurt by the effects of progressivist ed theories: reduction of academic content, blurring of meaningful assessment, packing of classroom time with psychobabble and busywork projects.

    But much of the damage done by fuzzy ed theories is especially hurtful to boys, since much of the progressivist agenda is overwhelmingly skewed towards girls.

What Has Changed?

    As we will explore on this page, boys are doing poorly today, but this wasn't always the case. Therefore, any explanation or attempt at fixing the problem must grapple with the reality that quite evidently something has changed. For that reason, statements like "For boys, it isn't cool to be good at school" fail to explain what is happening -- it may be true, but there's no reason to think it represents a change.

    In the search for what has changed, all that may be necessary is to walk into a typical K-8 classroom today and see the pandemic artworks in all subjects, the nonstop self-reflective essays, chatty verbal and written responses to just about everything, condemnation of learning of (gasp!) facts, math that has more New Age philosophy than arithmetic, low-content gee-whiz science designed for the MTV generation, "social studies" that has scant real history, geography and civics in the early years, and the omission of academic competitions or recess.

22 School Practices That Harm Boys

    (by Kevin Killion, March 2006)

    Just what is going on in modern progressivist schools that could account for the plummeting academic performance of boys? Let's consider which of these changes seem to be a factor. Many of these are discussed in more details in the articles listed below.

  • Teaching Methods
    1. Whole language instead of phonics (research shows differences between boys and girls in the extent of harm done by whole language) (more)
  • Classroom Organization and Practices
    1. Collaborative workgroups, which favor social interaction over personal skills and knowledge
    2. Desk seating in clusters or pods, instead of directed towards the teacher. Clusters dramatically increase the number of distractions, and substantial research finds that students (all students) really do learn better when desks face the teacher. (more)
    3. Emphasis on multiple simultaneous classroom activities -- a major source of distractions -- instead of focused, whole-class, engaging instruction
    4. Trend towards "project-learning" that is overwhelmed by play-like art projects and social activities, instead of dynamic direct teaching of content knowledge and skills (more)
    5. Reduced emphasis in classroom on competition: spelling bees, geography bees, awards, etc.
    6. Reduced emphasis in school on competition: valedictorians, GPAs, honor rolls, etc.
  • Subject Material: Interest
    1. Assigned literature skewed lopsidedly towards social issues, and away from novels of high adventure, courage, patriotism, etc. (Also see our pages on the Illinois Rebecca Caudill awards and on literature.)
    2. Almost total absence of fact-based biography and non-fiction in literature and reading classes. (more)
  • Subject Material: Bias
    1. "Modern" textbooks and recommended literature often go to extremes to remove male role models as lead characters and examples. (Read more regarding this issue in textbooks and in literature.)
  • Assessment and Expectations
    1. Schools now emphasize process over facts (more):
      • In history and science, "research" and "hypothesizing" now takes the place of knowing what happened or how things work.
      • Even in mathematics, the goal is no longer the mastering of good methods in the pursuit of correct answers. Instead, classwork involves "discovering" different methods and verbal ability in describing the approach taken. (Albert Einstein would not have done well in today's math classroom. He once said, "I rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterward.")
    2. Assessment via chatty essays emphasizing verbal skills and expressions of feelings, instead of objective measurement of knowledge and understanding (more)
    3. For whatever reason, boys tend to be less skilled than girls in producing neat, clear handwriting. But research finds that "Illegible or poor handwriting can hinder students in getting fair and objective grades from their teachers ... [T]he quality of students' handwriting influences how teachers evaluate papers; students with better handwriting receive higher grades than those with poor handwriting." The result? Boys get lowered grades due to the written form of assessment. (more)
    4. Scoring of these essays by factors unrelated to the subject material at hand (e.g., math exams that give points for use of complete sentences, use of upper and lower case letters, reference to personal beliefs and experiences)
  • Attention, Distractions, Physical Activity
    1. Inattention seen as a psychological disease to be drugged rather than a social deficiency to be corrected
    2. Over-medicalization of attention issues: Instead of harnessing the enthusiasm of "hunter"-type alertness and guiding students in its control and application, typical lack of classroom attention is seen as a psychological malady that requires use of powerful psychotropic drugs.
    3. Classroom decorations, postings and colors that are over-the-top, resulting in an environment that is jarring and distracting rather than simply warm, inviting and encouraging.
    4. Elimination of recess, a healthy outlet for physical energy
    5. "Softening" of gym activities, reducing or eliminating vigorous or competitive ones (e.g., dodgeball), while increasing yoga, stretching, and other less active ones. The result is the loss of this physical outlet, and a conveyed sense that something is less acceptable about those other activities, which are enjoyed by many boys.
  • Teacher Biases
    1. More girls than boys report that they are called upon "often."
    2. More boys than girls report that teachers won't let them "say things they want to say."
    3. Teachers often respond well to students who are verbal and active in class discussions, and often that's a big advantage for girls. As a reporter observed in a recent Tribune article, "In an advanced-placement government class Wednesday, the girls excitedly responded to questions about the U.S. Constitution without raising their hands while the boys gave an occasional answer. 'They're louder and talk a lot more...' noted [a senior boy]."

Progressivist Ed and Boys

    The dwindling of substance at progressivist schools and its replacement with trendy theories does have an impact on the performance of boys. Here are some links to read more about progressivist education and its skewed impact by gender:

  • Shafting Boys by Ilana Mercer, January 27, 2006. Excerpts:

           "American high-school kids, boys and girls, have been crowned the cretins of the developed world, as measured by every conceivable international test. That girls have climbed to the top of this pile is no great achievement. No, the galloping ignorance among American students is proportional to budgetary profligacy.

           "The problems plaguing boys are not pecuniary, but paradigmatic: the progressive, child-centered worldview and feminism. For decades now, America's educators have insisted that learning be made as natural and as easy as possible, when it is neither. To this end, content-based, top-down teaching was replaced with pop-culture friendly, non-hierarchically delivered flimflam. ...

      "Evidence abounds that boys thrive in the more disciplined, structured learning environment."
           "Evidence abounds that boys thrive in the more disciplined, structured learning environment. America's loosey-goosey schools, however, shun discipline and moral instruction. Boys are also biologically predisposed to competition. But in the progressive school, cooperative experiences and groupthink are preferred to individual achievement.

           "And girls are favored over boys. When boys bubble over with unbridled testosterone, instead of challenging, disciplining and harnessing their energies, as teachers once did, they are emasculated or medicated. The former means being made over in the image of woman; the latter entails being diagnosed as 'learning disabled' and drugged with Ritalin. It is a consequence of the demonization of male biopsychology. ...

           "In addition to a core-curriculum, banished too from America's feminized and foolish schools is the 'archaic' idea of a literary canon. Not only do boys have to internalize feminism's lumpen jargon; they must also synchronize their male brains to Oprah's challenged synapses. English teachers expect them to study Memoirs of a Geisha and The Secret Life of Bees.

           "If epic literature worms its way into the school's shopping-mall assortment of flimsy courses and frivolous subject matter, then it is duly deconstructed and shred: Boys are taught to see great works of art through feminism's grim and distorting prism. Shakespeare, Tolstoy and T.S. Eliot were members of the ruling class of oppressors -- their artistry no more than a manifestation of the alleged power relationships in society.

           "Progressive schools -- and the feminist and feminized 'education' they inflict -- are ultimately very bad for boys and girls alike. But while they favor girls, casting them as a besieged class of helots, they are hostile to boys, who are perceived as members of a ruling elite that refuses to let go of patriarchal privilege and power."

    Read the full article here.

  • How Boys Learn Differently Than Girls by Michelle Caskey. "... boys have many more physical and mental differences from girls than more people realize. These books include scientific evidence showing that boys not only behave differently than girls, they also hear differently, see differently, respond to stress differently, and think differently. You may not realize it but boys' brains work differently than girls! And this means that boys learn differently than girls as well." The author goes into detail about four ways boys respond differently to teaching:
    "Boys see differently ... Boys hear differently ... Boys think differently ... Boys see themselves differently ..."

  • "There has been a deliberate feminizing of public education, and boys have lost out big time."
    Political Correctness Muzzles Debate Over Feminization Of Our Classrooms by John Martin, Vancouver Province, September 05, 2007 "To put it bluntly, boys are getting shafted. In the '70s, there was concern that girls were less successful than boys in school. Since then, there has been a deliberate feminizing of public education, and boys have lost out big time. The classroom environment, curriculum and delivery methods have been revised to appeal to the learning styles of girls. ... Meanwhile, boys are being taught that masculinity is an anti-social trait that must be extinguished. Behaviours as mundane as fidgeting and looking out the window routinely prompt sit-downs with parents and counsellors. Repeat offences are likely to warrant a visit to a child psychologist. Schools used to confront, challenge and set reasonable limits on boys who exhibited disruptive behavior. Efforts were made to channel excess enthusiasm. Today, we diagnose such behaviour as learning disorders and medicate them."

  • "Progressive Ed's War On Boys", by Janet Daley, City Journal, Winter 1999, Volume 9, Number 1. This is a terrific article on the deleterious effect of reformist school theories on boys in particular. It makes a strong case that progressivist approaches can be devastating in teaching boys. Here are some excerpts:

      "Just when you thought nothing new could be added to progressive education's long catalog of failures, yet one more has come to light -- and it is a particularly grave and far-reaching failure. For progressive ed, I would argue, is responsible for the epidemic of underachievement among boys ... The real culprit is the radical shift in teaching methods and in the content of the school curriculum that progressive education has wrought. ...

      "Lost utterly, too, was any kind of rigor in instruction. ... The school dropped formal training in literacy and numeracy in favor of 'project learning' -- play-like, unstructured, open-ended work, done in groups. ... Progressive ideology rejected the very idea that getting answers right was important. ...

      "The brunt of all this fell most disastrously on boys -- who, it turned out, tempermentally depended much more than girls on the principles of traditional education: discipline, structure, and competition. ... One key reason why girls are doing strikingly better than boys is that teachers, in accordance with progressivist ideology, now judge schoolwork in a way that rewards enthusiasm and personal involvement more than objective knowledge and accuracy. ... School is now designed to be most helpful to the self-disciplined and self-motivating --which, during childhood and adolescence, largely means girls."

    Read the full article here.

  • "When Did We Lose Sight of Boys?", Washington Post, May 9, 1999. An excerpt: "Boys have more problems than girls in virtually every category you can think of with the exception of eating disorders. ... Since our kids spend the majority of their day in the structured setting of school, that's where problems are most likely to come to light. Many boys think that their grade schools are boy-unfriendly. I well remember my son bursting into the kitchen one day after school yelling, 'They want us to be girls, Mom, they want us to be girls!'"

  • Battling For Boys: How Schools Stifle Our Sons by Marty Nemko, New York Post, January 24, 2008. "... K-12 education has been made girl-friendly at the expense of boys: Competition, a prime motivator for boys, has largely been replaced by "cooperative learning." Readings about adventure and heroism are giving way to tales of relationships and heroines. Social studies now stress men's ill-doings and women's (and minorities') contributions. Today, 91 percent of elementary-school teachers arewomen, the highest level on record. The main male role model most boys see in school is the custodian. So it shouldn't surprise us that a University of Michigan study found that the number of boys who say they don't like school rose 71 percent from 1980 to 2001. ... Schools claim to celebrate diversity yet insist on providing one-size-fits-all, girl-centric education."

  • Two Contrasting Classrooms: Tale of Two Teachers by Dr. Kerry Hempenstall, Department of Psychology and Disability Studies, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. This is a marvelous article! If you're wondering why your child isn't thriving in school, read this and ask yourself, "Is my child's teacher more like Amanda or Monica?"
    "John and David are similar in many ways. They are active boys sharing a love of outdoor activities, and are easily bored indoors. ... Interestingly, they have been placed in two contrasting classrooms in which the teachers have quite different educational philosophies, and beliefs about the role of the teacher in the education system. ... John's teacher, Amanda, is a relatively recent graduate, and is imbued with the modern approach to teaching. She views students as natural learners and sees the teacher's role broadly as that of facilitator. ... In the meantime, David has been a member of Monica's class. She has been a teacher for ten years, and her early training was quite different to Amanda's..."

  • Boy Trouble by Richard Whitmire, The New Republic, January 23, 2006. "U.S. Department of Education ... released a 100-plus-page report weighing academic progress by gender. The results were bracing. Nearly every chart told the same story. Boys are over 50 percent more likely than girls to repeat grades in elementary school, one-third more likely to drop out of high school, and twice as likely to be identified with a learning disability. The response? Near-total silence. What's most worrisome are not long-standing gender differences but recent plunges in boys' relative performance.
         "The report illustrates a dramatic and unsolved mystery: At some point in the early '80s, boys' relative academic records and aspirations took a downward turn. ... And yet, according to LexisNexis, the report was cited by name in only five newspaper and magazine articles. Not only has there been little media attention to this crisis in boys' education, but there has been surprisingly little research."

  • "Boys learn differently, and schools are highly feminized places.
    Hip Hop Isn't The Only Reason for the Gender Gap: Schools Are, by Alexander Russo, January 14, 2006. "There's a thought-provoking and comprehensive piece by ... Richard Whitmire in The New Republic about the challenges of educating boys, especially in literacy. ... It's not just the hip-hop, and it's not just black boys. Titled Boy Trouble, the piece describes a growing gender gap -- not just in the US -- and debunks many of the convenient explanations used to divert attention from what may at heart be biological and instructional factors. That is, boys learn differently, and schools are highly feminized places."

  • "Why have girls become so much better at reading than boys?", London Times, June 13, 1997. The subtitle of this article is "When schools drop phonics, do boys fail to read?" Like America, Britain has revamped its schools to favor in-vogue theories of education. And like America, Britain is discovering that more and more kids aren't reading very well. This article has some profound insights into why that has happened, and why it has impacted especially hard on boys. An excerpt:
    "The poor performance of English boys in relation to girls, particularly in reading skills, is a relatively new phenomenon. ... Today, significant differences between girls and boys are still dramatically apparent in English tests at the ages of 14, 16 and 18. ... However, there is one English-speaking country that is very similar to England but where no sex differences in reading exist. That country is Scotland. is important to note there is one major difference in educational policy between the two countries [England and Scotland]. While 1960's child-centered methods of instruction have radically reshaped the teaching of reading in England, in Scotland methods have remained more traditional and phonics-based. It may be that code-based methods of reading instruction are more advantageous for boys than other methods."
  • Poor White Boys Flounder Under 'Feminised' Teaching, by Kamal Ahmed and Mark Townsend, The Observer (UK), August 17, 2003. "White working-class boys are falling behind other pupils at such an alarming rate that they are in danger of becoming the worst educated group of children. With the release of GCSE results this week expected to show that girls have again increased the academic gap between the sexes, David Miliband, the Schools Minister, said it was time for schools to 'tailor their learning' so boys get as much out of schools as girls. 'The great story of the comprehensive revolution is actually the enormous rise in achievement by girls,' Miliband said. 'They have been in a way the prime beneficiaries across all social classes.' ... There are worries that what are seen by some as more 'feminised' ways of working ... are leaving boys floundering. Some 55 per cent of girls achieve the national standard of five or more GCSEs at grade A to C. Only 44 per cent boys do. ... 'Here is a group that is too often being short changed by the system' [,Miliband said.] ... He said boys thrived where there was a culture of achievement in a school, where home study was limited and where strong discipline was promoted."

  • The Feminisation of Education by Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail (UK), August 19, 2002. Excerpts:

      "...Boys seem to be slipping further and further behind. ... The reason is nothing other than the wholesale feminisation of the education system. ... The evidence suggests that boys and girls learn in different ways. ... Nevertheless, education policy denies such differences ... The result was active discrimination against boys. ... This was not only wrong in itself. It was also disastrous for boys. ... But rather than celebrating male characteristics, society tells boys at every turn that its values have turned female, and that if boys want any place in it they must do so too. Thus, male characteristics are derided. Warfare is said to be obscene. Authority is oppressive. Chivalry is a joke. Competition creates losers -- taboo in education, where everyone must be a winner. Stoicism is despised; instead, tears must flow and hearts be worn on sleeves at all times.

  • A Textbook Case of Junk Science by Pamela R. Winnick, Weekly Standard, May 9, 2005. "In 1995, the [National Academy of Sciences] published the National Science Education Standards, which, according to academy president Bruce Alberts, 'represent the best thinking ... about what is best for our nation's students.' The standards ... tell teachers to be 'sensitive' to students who are 'economically deprived, female, have disabilities, or [come] from populations underrepresented in the sciences./ Teachers should especially encourage 'women and girls, students of color and students with disabilities.'"

  • Start of School Very Different for Parents of Boys, Parents of Girls by Glenn Sacks, September 20, 2004. "Simply put, modern schools are not boy-friendly. ... Modern K-12 education is not suited to boys' needs and learning styles."
    The article takes particular note of anti-boy developments like these:
    • medicalization of normal boy behaviors
    • trend against competition
    • cooperative learning strategies
    • no right or wrong answers
    • lack of solid conclusions
    • efforts to make schools gentler
    • loss of action and adventure literature
    • adoption of subtle, reflective literature
    • dearth of male teachers
    • little outlet for natural boyish energy
    • decline in recess and gym

  • Dr. Elaine McEwan on boys and reading, an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Teach Them All to Read: Catching the Kids who Fall through the Cracks.

  • Why Johnny Won't Read by Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky, Washington Post, January 25, 2005. Excerpts:
          "From 1992 to 2002, the gender gap in reading by young adults widened considerably. In overall book reading, young women slipped from 63 percent to 59 percent, while young men plummeted from 55 percent to 43 percent. ... Between 1992 and 2002, among high school seniors, girls lost two points in reading scores and boys six points, leaving a 16-point differential ... Although one might expect the schools to be trying hard to make reading appealing to boys, the K-12 literature curriculum may in fact be contributing to the problem. ... Unfortunately, the textbooks and literature assigned in the elementary grades do not reflect the dispositions of male students. Few strong and active male role models can be found as lead characters. Gone are the inspiring biographies of the most important American presidents, inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs. No military valor, no high adventure. On the other hand, stories about adventurous and brave women abound. Publishers seem to be more interested in avoiding "masculine" perspectives or "stereotypes" than in getting boys to like what they are assigned to read. ... the evidence is accumulating that by the time they go on to high school, boys have lost their interest in reading about the fictional lives, thoughts and feelings of mature individuals in works written in high-quality prose, and they are no longer motivated by an exciting plot to persist in the struggle they will have with the vocabulary that goes with it."

  • Why Johnny Won't Read By Jon Scieszka, Washington Post, June 2, 2002. Excerpts:
          "When my son Jake was in third grade, the one required summer reading book for his whole class was Little House on the Prairie. Jake's first impression? 'Why are we reading this? Reading is for girls.' Jake is now in high school, but along the way he has worked through required readings of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Michael Dorris's Yellow Raft in Blue Water and Toni Morrison's Sula. Jake's current impression? 'Reading is definitely for girls.' Jake is not alone in this opinion. The 10-year-old boys in my neighborhood, the boys I talk to when I visit schools, the boys who write to me ... these boys don't see reading as a "guy" activity. ...
         "Boys will be boys -- and with the right books and role models, they'll be readers, too. ... I think schools and parents sometimes handicap their efforts to get boys reading by not offering boys the books that will inspire them to want to read. So many required reading lists and favored books in schools reflect women's reading tastes. ... imagine how motivated you would be to read as an adult if you were told that before you could read anything else that appealed to you, you first had to read the books your spouse likes."

  • Book: "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men" by Christina Hoff Sommers.

  • Click here for the entire first chapter of "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men" by Christina Hoff Sommers. This chapter gives great background info on the state of boys and girls in schools today, and the extent to which educators continue to stack the deck against boys. This excerpt sets the stage:
    "Far from being shy and demoralized, today's girls outshine boys. Girls get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow a more rigorous academic program and participate more in the prestigious Advanced Placement (AP) program. ...

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more female than male students enroll in high-level math and science courses. ... Girls, allegedly so timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and even in debating clubs. Only in sports are the boys still ahead, and women's groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. ...

    Girls read more books. They outperform males on tests of artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps.

    Conversely, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely as girls to be enrolled in special education programs and four times as likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more than boys, but it is boys who actually kill themselves more often. In a typical year (1997), there were 4,493 suicides of young people between the ages of five and twenty-four: 701 females, 3,792 males.

  • "It's a bad time to be a boy in America."
    The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers, Atlantic Monthly, May 2000. This article is excerpted from Christina Hoff Sommers's book, "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men." Excerpt from the start of this excellent article: "This we think we know: American schools favor boys and grind down girls. The truth is the very opposite. By virtually every measure, girls are thriving in school; it is boys who are the second sex. It's a bad time to be a boy in America." We highly recommend the complete book, which carries substantial coverage on the differential effects of progressive education theory on boys and girls, and on a call for restoring moral education in schools.

  • Where the Boys Are by Christina Hoff Sommers, Bradley Lecture, American Enterprise Institute, November 9, 1998. Excerpts:

      "American boys are seriously lagging behind the girls and it keeps getting worse. Bereft of discipline, competitive structures, and direct moral guidance on how to compete and succeed, many American boys do behave badly. They also fare badly academically. The therapeutic pedagogy aggravates that condition. By emphasizing an ethic of feeling over a traditional ethic of right and wrong, by depriving boys of the traditional, effective, time-tested classroom discipline, modern educators are gravely harming boys.

      "The British know all about this. They are a full five years ahead of us in recognizing the achievement gap between boys and girls and in taking active measures to deal with it. ... In Britain, ... more and more parents, teachers, and education experts are coming to the conclusion that progressive/therapeutic education does not work for boys. The British are experimenting by bringing back the old-fashioned pedagogies. ...

      "The Daily Telegraph writer Janet Daly sums up the growing consensus in Britain in a recent talk she gave to the Independent Women's Forum this past September. Referring to the 'feminized curriculum' she says:

      The consequences have been disastrous for boys, who it turned out, were temperamentally much more dependent than girls on the principles of traditional education: discipline, structure and competition.

  • "It's payback time" -- Review in of Christina Hoff Sommers' ""The War Against Boys".

  • "Battle of the celebrity gender theorists" by Amy Benfer. Caption: "Christina Hoff Sommers skewers Carol Gilligan, Jane Fonda and their 'girl crisis' rhetoric."

  • "The Write Stuff" by Christina Hoff Sommers, Women's Quarterly, Independent Women's Forum, Summer 2001. In arguing why penmanship should be a skill that is still taught, the author points out that without such instruction,
    "...many [children, especially boys, do not learn to write legibly. ... Handwriting is not correlated with IQ. ... But it does appear to be strongly correlated with grades. Several studies have confirmed that, when teachers are asked to grade papers of comparable quality, those that are neatly written get higher marks. ... But what about all the in-class assignments and tests that require written answers? Shouldn't someone consider the possibility that there is grading bias against boys and that by not teaching handwriting, boys are disadvantaged? At every stage of education boys get lower grades than girls. Their handwriting deficits are almost certainly a factor."

  • It's Tough to be a Boy in American Schools by John Leo. Excerpts: "I think the obvious is true: Boys are different from girls. They like rough-and-tumble play. When they alight somewhere, they build something, then knock it down. They are not much interested in sitting quietly, talking about their feelings or working on relationships. They like action, preferably something involving noise, conflict and triumph. ... So if you want to teach boys, allowances must be made. One of the tragedies of the last 20 years or so is that school systems are increasingly unwilling to make those allowances. Instead, in the wake of the feminist movement, they have absorbed anti-male attitudes almost without controversy. They are now more likely to see ordinary boy behavior as something dangerous that must be reined in. Or they may tighten the screws on boys by drafting extraordinarily broad zero-tolerance and sexual-harassment policies. Worse, they may simply decide that the most active boys are suffering from attention deficit disorder and dope them up with Ritalin."

  • "What About the Boys? Dumb, dumber and dying" by Diane Ravitch

  • The War Against Competition Hurts Boys by Marvin Olasky, August 14, 2001. Excerpt: "'War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.'" That was a hit song of the sixties, and our leaders in media and academia have said it again and again since then, but in a broadened sense: "Competition! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing." ... But it's among school kids that anti-competition bias has the most obvious results. At many schools, the classic competitions are dead. Dodge ball is out. Despite the high profile of the National Spelling Bee, classroom spelling bees are much less frequent. At some elementary school basketball games, no one keeps score."

  • How The Schools Wage War On Boys by Margaret Wendt, Globe and Mail (Canada), February 27, 2003 "The boy problem is the hottest cottage industry in education. Everyone's worried about the boys. They're behind at every level. ... If you're searching for a root cause, here it is. Boys are flunking out because the schools don't teach them how to read. Instead, they diagnose them with learning disabilities (at a much higher rate than girls). Or they hope the boys will pick it up sooner or later. Then they pass them on from grade to grade until they drop out in frustration."

  • Teachers who yell are good for boys by Anne Marie Owens, National Post (Canada). This point-of-view seems so politically incorrect, and yet it makes a great deal of sense. See what you think! Excerpt: "Boys need to be yelled at by their teachers every once in a while, teachers from across North America heard at a major education conference. Dr. Leonard Sax, a family physician and psychologist from Maryland and a leading advocate for boys' education, said boys often respond well to a confrontational classroom style. 'Where did we get this notion that a teacher should never yell at a fourth-grade boy? ... We have to come around again to a recognition that maybe in certain cases you need to raise your voice. It doesn't work with girls, but with boys, you raise your voice and you energize them.' .. He said boys are missing out because the confrontational teaching approach has largely been abandoned in elementary schools where the profession is dominated by women who are opting to treat students the way they would prefer to be treated themselves, ignoring the fact that boys are programmed to thrive under confrontation. ... He pointed to the male response to stress ... which shows an increased heart rate, increased blood flow to the brain and a boost in alertness that collectively triggers a desire to fight or run away. However, the female response to stress is completely different, and prompts instead a decreased heart rate and blood flow to the brain, dizziness, nausea -- all of it triggering a desire to hug and be hugged, he said. 'Most boys will experience confrontation as arousing and exciting -- they enjoy it. Girls, however, experience nausea and dizziness; they are not that interested in being under fire.'"

    There are many more articles and excerpts on the problems of boys in progressivist schools at this website: War On Boys.

Portrayals of Boys and Men

  • White House Conference on Helping America's Youth, paper presented by Judith Kleinfeld, University of Alaska, June 6, 2006: "All of us sense immediately and viscerally whether people respect us, and boys do not get respect. American culture has lost respect for what used to be considered 'manly virtues.' These include 1) physical courage, used in the service of noble ends, 2) singleness of purpose, energetic devotion to one overarching goal, and 2) emotional restraint, what we used to call 'grace under pressure.' We shut boys down, labeling the rough and tumble play characteristic of all juvenile male primates 'violence and aggression,' labeling immature attempts at romance 'sexual harassment,' labeling spiritedness, the quality of the soul the Greeks called thumos, 'rebellion and defiance.' When we shut boys down, why should we be surprised when so many of our boys become lifeless and dispirited?"

  • The Boys Project

  • "Modern" textbooks and recommended literature often go to extremes to remove male role models as lead characters and examples. In her book "The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn", Diane Ravitch cites the example of the state of California rejecting The Little Engine That Could as an approved reading book because the main character was male.

  • In writing about sanitized and politically correct questions in standardized tests in her important paper "Education After the Culture Wars" (PDF doc from Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Summer 2002) Diane Ravitch notes,
    "As a member of the [National Assessment Governing Board], I reviewed one- and two-page passages that had been prepared by the testing consortium ... Most of these passages had been previously published in children's magazines or in recent anthologies. After I had read about a dozen such passages ... I realized that the readings themselves had a cumulative subtext: the hero was never a white boy. Instead, the leading character -- the one who was most competent, successful, and sympathetic -- was invariably either a girl (of any race) or a nonwhite boy. Almost without exception, white boys were portrayed as weak and dependent. In one story, a white boy in a difficult situation weeps and says plaintively, 'If only my big sister were here, I would know what to do.'" (emphasis added)
    In the same article, Ravitch later provides an extraordinary litany of phrases and usages that were forbidden, according to the test developers. With regards to gender, Ravitch gives these as examples of politically incorrect phrasings that were prohibited in test materials:
    "Men shown as 'strong, brave, and silent,' women shown as 'weepy, fearful, and emotional'; boys playing sports, or girls playing with dolls; ... men working as lawyers, doctors, or plumbers; women working as nurses or secretaries; ... men playing sports or working with tools; women cooking and caring for children; ... men portrayed as breadwinners; women portrayed as homemakers... Illustrators must not use pink for baby girls or blue for baby boys. Out is the old-fashioned idea that females care more about their appearance than males do: today's illustrator must portray both sexes 'preening in front of a mirror,' with Dad using a blow-dryer."

  • When Boys Were Boys by David Frum, The Weekly Standard, October 20, 1997. Excerpts: "But as one looks through the racks of new books, one is overwhelmed by how hostile grownup society seems to be to its sons.
      "It's not that grownup society is hostile to boyishness as such. On the contrary, grownups eagerly encourage risk-taking and adventuring -- provided only that it's done by girls. There's no shortage of books for young readers about wars and western exploration, about mountain-climbing and bravery during floods and hurricanes. But the protagonists of these books are usually 10-year-old girls. Pick up a catalogue of the children's books published in the past two or three years. You'll find Seeing Red, the story of an intrepid Cornish girl who saves her village from Napoleonic invasion, and The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, about a young girl's adventures in the California Gold Rush. There is Grace the Pirate, Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmond, Civil War Spy, and the Daughters of Liberty series, which tells bold stories of girlish derring-do during the Revolution.
      "Stories for boys are no longer permitted to be so exciting. Here is a publisher's blurb for a book about a boy who courageously 'defies teasing to remain enrolled in ballet class.' Here's another about 'Lame teenager Shem' who 'finds manhood in the Michigan wilderness with the help of an old Indian woman.' And a third: 'Doing volunteer work at Santa Barbara's Sidewalk's End, a day-care facility for children of the homeless, Ben witnesses an instance of physical abuse and -- for the best of reasons -- decides to take matters into his own hands.'"
      "... boys must always have girls with them, doing everything they do -- indeed, almost always doing it better. You hear many complaints that boys today don't seem interested in reading. Who can blame them?"

  • Some "experts" decry what they see as "violent" plots or themes, and rail against children being exposed to such books. But are books about monsters, fantasy, super-heroes or other stories with "action" or violence actually damaging? And is there a gender bias issue at stake here, with many such books often being enjoyed by boy readers? We don't have the answers to those questions, but here are some interesting perspectives:

    • Boys' Violent Tastes Harmless: Psychologist by Anne Marie Owens, National Post (Canada), June 24, 2003 "The author who raised the first alarm about boys and violence in North America says we should stop worrying about boys indulging in war games, wrestling and fantasy play and begin embracing their low-brow tastes. Michael Thompson, the psychologist who wrote the groundbreaking book Raising Cain and several other best-selling books about boys, told a gathering of librarians from across North America that 'snobbery and elitism' are too much a part of the prevailing attitudes toward boys. ... 'A good choice is a book that a boy takes deep pleasure in reading, and nobody can tell a boy what that book will be.'"

    • In Praise of Violence by John Podhoretz, Weekly Standard, October 7, 2002. This is a review of a book, "Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence" by Gerard Jones. Excerpts: "Killing Monsters is a book that demanded to be written, if only to provide a moment's respite from a piece of conventional wisdom that goes almost completely unchallenged. Over the past thirty years it has become axiomatic that depictions of violence in popular culture are utterly without redeeming merit. Critics on the left (such as Peggy Charren of Action for Children's Television) and critics of the right (such as Michael Medved) are in full-throated agreement on the evils of fantasy and fictional violence as depicted on television, in the movies, in comic books, in popular music, and in video games. ... In the book's most original and telling insight, Jones suggests the problem arises from a failure to comprehend the nature of childhood play, which he believes is almost entirely metaphorical. ... At every moment, the play of children is shot through with the knowledge that they are playing. They are not powerful. They are not big."

  • Why I Launched the Campaign Against "Boys are Stupid" Products by Glenn Sacks, Los Angeles Daily News, February 4, 2004. "'Dad, why are they always saying things like that about boys?' This question asked by my 11 year-old son triggered a campaign which in just six weeks has driven T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise bearing the slogan 'Boys are Stupid--Throw Rocks at Them' out of nearly 3,000 retail outlets worldwide. The products depict a little boy running away as several rocks come flying at his head. The stores dropped the products after being bombarded with thousands of e-mails and phone calls, largely from the listeners and supporters of my radio talk show."

Boys Are Falling Behind

  • U.S. Girl Students Outperform Boys in Most Subjects, Study Finds by Krista Kafer, School Reform News, March 1, 2005. Subject headings include:
        Girls Read, Write Better
        Math Difference Small
        Boys Have More Problems
        College Participation Favors Girls

  • As of December 2007, the website of the Glencoe PTO carried this admission: "Boys earn two-thirds of the Ds and Fs in the district, but less [sic] than half the A's."

  • Boys or Girls -- Pick Your Victim by Glenn Sacks, The Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2005. Excerpts: "A new Duke University study on child well-being ... clearly contradicts the popular notion that there is a 'girl crisis' -- that modern girls are disadvantaged. But the Duke press release added a twist of its own, announcing that 'American boys and girls today are faring almost equally well across key indicators of education, health, safety and risky behavior.' News reports have followed suit, with headlines such as 'Boys, girls fare equally in U.S.: Study debunks both sides in long debate' and 'Boy-girl gender gap? Not so fast.' Yet the study shows nothing of the sort. Boys and girls fared equally in six of the 28 categories studied by the researchers -- and girls fared better than boys in 17 of the remaining 22. The male advantages were modest. For instance, males had a small advantage in math, a slightly lower propensity to smoke, and less likelihood to have been relocated in the last year. In contrast, many of the girls' advantages are huge. ... The percentage of boys graduating from high school has dropped back below 1985 levels. Girls get better grades than boys and are much more likely than boys to graduate from high school, enter college and graduate from college. Although more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science classes, boys did score a couple of points better on the most recent national math test considered by the study. But girls' advantage on the most recent reading test is five times as large. The vast majority of learning-disabled students are boys, and boys are four times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as girls. Boys are far more likely than girls to be disciplined, suspended, held back or expelled."

  • Fact Sheet: What's Wrong with the Guys? (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter, October 30, 2002. Here is an excellent nine page summary of the symptoms of the crisis with boys.

  • Report Finds Huge Gender Gap In Writing Skills Test by Joshua Benton, Dallas Morning News, Friday, July 11, 2003. "Girls far outscored boys on the writing portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, according to new data released Thursday. It's the largest gender gap of any major subject area tested by NAEP, the federal tests often called "the nation's report card. ... Forty percent of eighth-grade girls scored high enough on NAEP to be considered 'proficient' under the test's rules. Only 20 percent of boys did. To put it another way: ... If all the boys moved to their own state, it would rank 37th of the 41 states that NAEP tested. ... Theories abound for the gap. Some say ... teachers often assign writing topics that aren't interesting to boys."

  • The Gender Gap: Boys Lagging - transcript of segment on 60 Minutes, CBS Television, October 31, 2002. "Remember when girls became nurses and not doctors? Stenographers, not CEOs? ... Well, that's not the way it is any more. ... Now, it's the boys who could use a little help in school, where they're falling behind their female counterparts. And if you think it's just boys from the inner cities, think again. It's happening in all segments of society, in all 50 states. ... there's going to be a cold shower when the country realizes that women are completely dominating the numbers in professional schools."

  • Boys, Not Girls, On Worse End Of Education Gap by Becky Beaupre, Chicago Sun-Times, March 9, 2003: "For years, educators have worried that girls don't do as well as boys in math and science. But now, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Illinois school test scores, educators face a bigger problem: boys lag behind girls--often by a far wider margin--in reading and writing..."

  • Now Boys Trail Girls, USA Today, September 10, 2002, p. 10. "In the 1970s and '80s researchers warned that girls were the ones headed off course. ... Yet today, boys appear to be the intellectually endangered species. ... A study released last month ... raises important questions about why boys are being turned off to academics so early."

  • A Test Congress Can't Pass by Krista Kafer, September 12, 2002. Excerpt: "Now that the kids are back in school, here's a quick test for the rest of us. But don't worry -- it's an easy one. Just one question: In almost every academic measure, girls outperform boys. Girls are more likely to receive academic honors, graduate and go to college. Boys are more likely to have learning disabilities, fall behind in school and drop out. Given these facts, Congress should fund a\ multi-million-dollar government program to: a) Help girls achieve more, b) Help boys achieve more, c) Help all students succeed. If you're like most folks, you picked either "B" or "C." But if you're a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, you probably selected "A."

  • The Gender Gap: Boys Lagging, CBS News, October 31, 2002, Excerpt: "... Girls are graduating from high school and college and going into professions and businesses in record numbers. Now, it's the boys who could use a little help in school, where they're falling behind their female counterparts."

  • "Will boys be boys? Society is turning against boys when what they need is help", John Leo, U.S. News, July 17, 2000

  • "Lost Boys" by Amy Benfer. Caption: "While girls surge ahead in all subjects at school, boys are lagging behind. Is 'girl power' to blame? Do boys need their own dose of 'empowerment'?"

  • Glenn Sacks writes extensively on issues facing men. Here are some strong articles he's written on anti-male bias in schools:

    • Why Males Don't Go to College: "Part of the reason it is difficult and unpleasant to be a male college student today is that anti-male bigotry pops up by surprise all the time in the most unlikely places."
    • Boys: The New Underclass in American Schools, Los Angeles Daily Journal, San Francisco Daily Journal, April 15, 2002. Excerpt: "Boys at all levels are far more likely than girls to be disciplined, suspended, held back, or expelled. By high school the typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing, and is less likely to graduate high school, go to college, or graduate college than a typical girl. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as girls, four times as likely to commit suicide, and far more likely to fall victim to teen drug or alcohol abuse. By every index, our schools are failing our boys. Yet little is being done about it."
    • The Boy Parent Dilemma, Los Angeles Daily News, 9/6/02. "As we send our young sons back to school, millions of parents of boys are apprehensive, dreading the pain of the 'boy parent dilemma.' Modern schools are not suited to boys' personalities and learning styles."
    • Hate My Father? No Ma'am!: "Veterans' Day always makes me think of my grandfather ... This article deals with the sacrifices that men of my father and my grandfather's generations made, and how these sacrifices are too often ignored in our modern, anti-male social and political climate."
    • New Study Finds Myths, Misrepresentations in Women's Studies Textbooks
    • Popular Women's Studies 101 Textbook: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
    • Glenn Sachs' website

  • The May 26, 2003 issue of Business Week devoted its cover story and a substantial chunk of the issue to the crisis of American boys. Here are some links to articles in that issue (registration is needed, but free):
    Cover Story: The New Gender Gap
    May 26, 2003, Business Week

    The New Gender Gap: "From kindergarten to grad school, boys are becoming the second sex"

    "This Is a World Made for Women" "The Pell Institute's Thomas Mortenson says today's education system isn't preparing boys for the New Economy -- and that hurts women, too"

    "It's a Bart Simpson Culture" "Academic Andrew Sum says one reason men are falling way behind in the education stakes is America's anti-intellectual climate"

    Commentary: Why Can't We Let Boys Be Boys?

    Graphic: A Widening Gulf in School...

    Graphic: ...Leads More and More to a Girls' Club in College

    Graphic: The New Shape of the Workforce

When Boys Do Well

  • Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man? Women earn most of America's Ph.D.'s but lag in the physical sciences. Beware of plans to fix the 'problem.' by Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, The American, March/April 2008.
         "Women now earn 57 percent of bachelors degrees and 59 percent of masters degrees. According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, 2006 was the fifth year in a row in which the majority of research Ph.D.'s awarded to U.S. citizens went to women. Women earn more Ph.D.'s than men in the humanities, social sciences, education, and life sciences. Women now serve as presidents of Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and other leading research universities.
         "But elsewhere, the figures are different. Women comprise just 19 percent of tenure-track professors in math, 11 percent in physics, 10 percent in computer science, and 10 percent in electrical engineering. ...
         "So why are there so few women in the high echelons of academic math and in the physical sciences? ...
         "The power and glory of science and engineering is that they are, adamantly, evidence-based. But the evidence of gender bias in math and science is flimsy at best, and the evidence that women are relatively disinclined to pursue these fields at the highest levels is serious.
         "When the bastions of science pay obsequious attention to the flimsy and turn a blind eye to the serious, it is hard to maintain the view that the science enterprise is somehow immune to the enthusiasms that have corrupted other, supposedly 'softer academic fields. ...
         "American scientific excellence is a precious national resource. It is the foundation of our economy and of the nation's health and safety. ... Will an academic science that is quota-driven, gender-balanced, cooperative rather than competitive, and less time-consuming produce anything like these results?"

Fewer Boys On Campus

  • "Where the boys aren't: Nearly 60 percent of college students are women. Have men lost their minds?", U.S.News, cover story, February 8, 1999

  • Gender gap reaches new degree: Some experts worried as women outnumber men at colleges, Houston Chronicle, June 16, 2003: "[There is a] national crisis that few people are talking about, some experts say. In the last 25 years, men have become increasingly sparse on America's campuses. ... In 2000, ... there were 128 women in college for every 100 men. The U.S. Department of Education predicts this trend will continue, with 138 women enrolled for every 100 men by 2010. ... Tom Mortenson, who publishes the Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter ... attribute[s] the gender gap to an education system that encourages girls to succeed from an early age but does little to address the needs of boys. For example, he said, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with special-education needs and other disabilities, are two or three times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, are more likely to be held back in school, are more likely to drop out of school, are less likely to enroll in college and are less likely to complete a bachelor's degree once in college. 'I think we've been on a feminist agenda to expand the educational opportunities for girls for 30 to 40 years in this country, and we've simply forgotten about the boys.'"

  • The Great Divide: The College Gender Gap by Rebecca D. Petersen, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, July 7, 2006. "When boys drop out of school, many are at risk of falling into the juvenile or criminal justice system. Males make up 75-80 percent of all arrests and account for 93 percent of the prison population. ... it appears as if our nation's boys are being left behind as the victimized sex in education both within K-12 and higher education."

  • Do the math: Girls tops on campuses by Kay Lazar, Boston Herald, August 31, 2003, Excerpts:
       "But the college outlook nationwide is decidedly female. The U.S. Department of Education reports 128 women for every 100 men at degree-granting institutions.
       And the feds project the gap will grow into the next decade.
       'It's a disaster for the country. Young men who don't complete schooling these days have a lifetime of labor-market wreck ahead of them,' said economist Andrew Sum of Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies.
       Sum co-authored a recent study that traced the growing gender gap nationwide.
       'If this (disparity) was happening to women, you would have 14 task forces, five presidential commissions and Ted Kennedy jumping up and down,' Sum said. 'It's been largely ignored because it's not politically correct to raise it.'
       A nation of undereducated men, said Sum, will mean higher unemployment, a strain on welfare systems, less money contributed to Social Security, more out-of-wedlock children and a colossal 'marriage squeeze' for women because higher educated females will have to resort to marrying beneath them.
       ... Doug Sears, dean of [Boston University]'s School of Education [said,] 'Among education experts, ... the rhetoric is still about how girls are disadvantaged in schools. [and yet] we're growing an army of underachieving and ordinary guys.'"

  • Why Males Don't Go to College by Glenn Sacks: "Part of the reason it is difficult and unpleasant to be a male college student today is that anti-male bigotry pops up by surprise all the time in the most unlikely places."

  • College text study finds women reading hate male by Ellen Sorokin, Washington Times, April 4, 2002

  • Males' learning needs ignored?, Arizona Republic, November 1, 2004. "Are males on the verge of becoming an endangered species on college campuses? ... William Draves of the Wisconsin-based Learning Resources Network thinks so. He estimates that only 35 percent of today's U.S. undergraduate college students are men ... The problem, Draves says, begins in elementary school with the refusal to acknowledge that boys and girls learn differently." Statistics cited include:
    -- Boys receive 70 percent of D's and F's.
    -- Girls receive 60 percent of A's.
    -- Boys are 80 percent of high school dropouts.

  • A Girls' Club in College (from the May 26, 2003 Business Week cover story on The New Gender Gap.

  • "Postsecondary Education Opportunity" covers numerous issues and trends in higher education, and has extensive information and reports on the crisis in boys in college. Here are links to several excellent resources they provide:

  • Postsecondary Education Opportunity report on Illinois: this is a vital resource on higher education in Illinois, with several reports on the issue of gender bias in our state.

  • Also from Postsecondary Education Opportunity, here are the trends of Bachelor's Degrees Awarded to Men and Women in Illinois 1970 to 2000, based on data published by the National Center for Education Statistics.

    From this, we've plotted degrees awarded by men (blue) and women. The number of men receiving undergrad degrees has increased slightly, from 21,501 in 1970 to 23,584 in 2000. However, the number of women granted degrees has almost doubled in the same period, from 16948 to 31452:

    Bachelor Degrees Awarded in Illinois (Count)

    The above chart is intriguing. The degrees awarded in Illinois by gender had pulled level by the early 1980s. But ever since then, an imbalance has opened up and expanded widely -- this time in favor of girls. As a result, girls are now heavily overrepresented in graduation counts, even worse than the imbalance that had been in boys' favor back in 1970. In 2000, 57% of bachelor degrees awarded in Illinois went to women, only 43% went to men.

    Bachelor Degrees Awarded in Illinois (Percent)

  • Where are the boys?
    The growing gender gap in higher education
    Postsecondary Education Opportunity says, "We have written an article for the Summer 1999 issue of The College Board Review to try to initiate discussion within the education community on the symptoms and causes of the problems of young males in the education system."

  • Additional presentations from Postsecondary Education Opportunity:

  • Affirmative Action For Men? Admissions officers walk a fine line in gender-balancing act by Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 2001.

  • The Gender Equation: Making room for men's gains where women once reigned by Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, May 29, 2001.

  • Canada: Grad Gender Gap Grows ... Men falling behind women by degrees, Montreal Gazette, July 9, 2003: "Students are earning a record number of degrees at Canadian universities, where the gender gap continues to grow ... Universities awarded 175,600 degrees in 2000 ... women received 59 per cent of the total degrees awarded. Only at the doctoral level did men outnumber women in 2000, but the trend in this male stronghold also suggests this dynamic could be reversed over time. The number of men earning doctoral degrees dropped by 13 per cent compared with 1995, while the number of women earning PhDs increased by 33.3 per cent in five years. ..."

Medicalizing Normal Boy Behavior?

    As schools adopt teaching methods, curricula, literature and classroom practices that favor girls, the normal behavior of boys is marginalized and deemed inappropriate. There is a tremendous concern by many experts that classrooms have turned into places where girls are praised, but boys are seen as candidates for medical treatment.

    There seems to be little question that in many cases, attention and hyperactivity problems are indeed severe, debilitating, and need correction or treatment of some kind. But it is also extremely clear that too often children -- particularly boys -- wind up with prescriptions for powerful psychoactive medications, when no real medical or psychological problem is present.

    The following articles offer a basic introduction to this very big concern.

  • Girls Get Extra School Help While Boys Get Ritalin, editorial, USA Today, August 28, 2003 Excerpts: "In classrooms nationwide, girls are pulling ahead of boys academically. Recent federal testing data show that what starts out as a modest gap in elementary-level reading scores turns into a yawning divide by high school. In 12th grade, 44% of girls rate as proficient readers on federal tests, compared with 28% of boys. Most startling is that little is being done to correct the imbalances. All of the major players -- schools, education colleges and researchers -- largely ignore the gender gap. Instead of pursuing sound solutions, many educators merely advocate prescribing more attention-focusing Ritalin for the boys, who receive the drug at four to eight times the rate of girls. ... One fact explains why educators are ignoring boys' needs: You can't address a problem that you don't admit exists. ... Today's education system fails many boys. They deserve the same kind of attention to address why they are losing ground.

  • Drugging Children by Thomas Sowell. Excerpt: "The motto used to be: 'Boys will be boys.' Today, the motto seems to be: 'Boys will be medicated.' Of nearly 20 million prescriptions written last year for drugs to treat 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,' most were for children and most of those children were boys. This is part of a growing tendency to treat boyhood as a pathological condition that requires a new three R's -- repression, re-education and Ritalin."

  • Many ADHD Symptoms Typical of Normal 'Boy Behavior' by Jim Brown, May 2, 2003. Excerpt: "Estimates place the number of children diagnosed with ADHD at between 5 and 7 million. But Phyllis Schlafly says doctors and pharmaceutical companies are turning behavioral problems into a disorder. 'If you look at the list of symptoms on which people diagnose ADHD, you will find that they are characteristics of most normal boys -- unable to sit still, has difficulty following directions, wants to run around and may fidget if required to sit too long; that sort of thing. This is just normal boy behavior,' she says."

Girls and School

  • Myth of the Suffering Schoolgirl by Fiona Houston. Caption under the headline: "The nation's schoolboys are in big trouble. Failure, drop-out rates and suicides are rising. Boys are lagging behind girls in reading and writing. Fewer and fewer of them are going on to college. Our solution? Goofy 'gender-equity' laws."

  • Girl Power! and Other Idiocy: Government propaganda for boys and girls. by Christina Hoff Sommers, January 2002. "[Health and Human Services] 'fact sheets' inform us that 'teachers often defer to male leadership and social dominance' and that 'girls (more so than boys) may develop low self-esteem ... and perform less well in school.' But girls perform better in school than boys. And if teachers are deferring to male leadership, the students themselves appear to be unaware of it. In a 1993 Department of Education study of several thousand tenth graders, 72 percent of girls but only 68 percent of boys 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' with the statement 'Teachers listen to what I have to say.'"

  • "Girls Matching Boys In Science And Math"

  • Girls Barely Trail Boys in Mathematics. Excerpt: "Using large national data sets, investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered that -- contrary to previous research -- U.S. boys hardly surpass U.S. girls in mathematical ability."

  • "Girls Are Not Shortchanged by Schools"

  • "Girls are Beneficiaries of Gender Gap", by Diane Ravitch, Wall Street Journal, December 17, 1998

  • "Mars to Venus: Back off", John Leo, U.S. News, May 11, 1998

  • "Gender wars redux", U.S. News, February 22, 1999, Excerpts:
       "From grade school through college, female students in all ethnic groups receive higher grades, even in math, obtain higher ranks, and receive more honors, except in science and sports. ... More girls than boys (59 percent to 57 percent) said they are called on often, and more boys than girls (67 percent to 63 percent) report that teachers won't let them say things they want to say. ... By overwhelming margins ... teachers give more attention to girls. Around three quarters of boys and girls said teachers compliment girls more often, think they are smarter, and prefer to be around girls. ...
       "The truth is that our schools have many flaws, but the oppression of females isn't one of them. The educational status of boys, not girls, is the real problem. Boys as a group, particularly minority boys, are falling behind, getting lower grades, suffering more emotional difficulties, getting punished far more frequently, dropping out more often, and reading and writing at levels that are appalling by girls' standards. One recent study finds that males account for 70 percent of all alienated students. If we put ideology aside, which gender do we think needs help now?"

  • The Myth of the Suffering Schoolgirl" How the AAUW and the Congress double-teamed America's schoolboys"

  • "What I Learned on Take Your Daughter to Work Day", or, "An eighth-grade girl helps grown-ups face facts."

  • Time Out for Fairness: Women for Title IX Reform, Independent Women's Forum, April 2003 (PDF report)

  • Boys Lag Behind, but Extra Help Goes to Girls by Krista Kafer, School Reform News, September 2002

  • Wasting Education Dollars: The Women's Educational Equity Act: This study by Krista Kafer of the Domestic Policy Studies Department of the Heritage Foundation concludes: "Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released a congressionally mandated study, Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women. On the basis of an analysis of 44 indicators--including academic achievement and behavioral outcomes--researchers concluded that 'By most of these measures, females are doing at least as well as males.' ... In fact, with regard to most academic measures, girls equal or outperform boys, and their success continues into adulthood. The gender gap in language tests, drop-out rates, Advanced Placement participation, honors courses, and other indicators favors girls. The gender gap favoring girls in reading and writing is three times as large as the gap favoring boys in science and math. ... Without the gender inequity that served as the rationale for the gender programs, there is no justification for retaining the Women's Educational Equity Act in the final ESEA bill."

Girls and College


    From our page on education quotations, here are the entries on gender issues -- boys and girls in schools: "There is evidence that the female advantage in school performance is real and persistent."
    -- U. S. Department of Education, 2000

    "Just when you thought nothing new could be added to progressive education's long catalog of failures, yet one more has come to light -- and it is a particularly grave and far-reaching failure. For progressive ed, I would argue, is responsible for the epidemic of underachievement among boys in British state schools, now so deep and widespread that it is taking on the proportions of a national crisis. ... The real culprit is the radical shift in teaching methods and in the content of the school curriculum that progressive education has wrought. ... Lost utterly, too, was any kind of rigor in instruction. ... The school dropped formal training in literacy and numeracy in favor of 'project learning' -- play-like, unstructured, open-ended work, done in groups. ... Progressive ideology rejected the very idea that getting answers right was important. ... The brunt of all this fell most disastrously on boys -- who, it turned out, tempermentally depended much more than girls on the principles of traditional education: discipline, structure, and competition. ... One key reason why girls are doing strikingly better than boys is that teachers, in accordance with progressivist ideology, now judge schoolwork in a way that rewards enthusiasm and personal involvement more than objective knowledge and accuracy. ... School is now designed to be most helpful to the self-disciplined and self-motivating -- which, during childhood and adolescence, largely means girls."
    -- Janet Daley, "Progressive Ed's War On Boys", City Journal (Manhattan Institute), Winter 1999

    "Many boys think that their grade schools are boy-unfriendly. I well remember my son bursting into the kitchen one day after school, yelling 'They want us to be girls, Mom, they want us to be girls!'"
    -- Patricia Dalton, "When Did We Lose Sight of Boys?", Washington Post, Sunday, May 9, 1999

    "The poor performance of English boys in relation to girls, particularly in reading skills, is a relatively new phenomenon. Various surveys show that, formerly, where sex differences did occur at the age of 7 or 8, they usually disappeared by the age of 11. Today, significant differences between girls and boys are still dramatically apparent in English tests at the ages of 14, 16 and 18. ... However, there is one English-speaking country that is very similar to England but where no sex differences in reading exist. That country is Scotland. ... There is one major difference in educational policy between the two countries. While 1960's child-centred methods of instruction have radically reshaped the teaching of reading in England, in Scotland methods have remained more traditional and phonics-based. It may be that code-based methods of reading instruction are more advantageous for boys than other methods."
    -- Dr. Bonnie Macmillan, "When schools drop phonics, do boys fail to read?", The London Times, June 13, 1997

    "Educators today are intolerant of boys acting like boys. ... When boys aren't being punished for being boys, they are being medicated to accomplish the same result. It is revealing that 95 percent of the kids on Ritalin today ... are boys. ... This view has found its most receptive audience in education, which is dominated, to a greater extent than other professions, by women. The result is a commitment to ... monitoring and policing characteristically male behavior, and getting boys to participate in 'characteristically feminine activities.' As a result, our sons think there's something wrong with being a boy. As Dan Kindlon, a child psychologist, puts it, our sons feel like a 'thorn among roses' and a 'frowned-upon presence' in our schools. This war that's being waged on sons isn't only cruel; it's culturally disastrous."
    -- Charles W. Colson, "The War Against Boys in Our Schools"

    "We spent most of the 1990s fretting about bogus research claiming that the schools were shortchanging and damaging girls, when the truth is that boys are the ones in trouble. Boys are much more likely than girls to have problems with schoolwork, repeat a grade, get suspended, and develop learning difficulties. ... They are five times more likely than girls to commit suicide and four to nine times more likely to be drugged with Ritalin. Student polls show that both girls and boys say their teachers like the girls more and punish the boys more often. Girls get better grades than boys, take more rigorous courses, and now attend college in much greater numbers. While the traditional advantage of boys over girls in math and science has narrowed (girls take as least as many upper-level math courses as boys, and more biology and chemistry), the advantage of girls over boys in reading and writing is large and stable."
    -- John Leo, "Will boys be boys?", U.S.News, July 17, 2000

    From the Simpsons:

    Principal Skinner [phonily]: Am I wearing women's clothes? I didn't notice. When I look in my closet, I don't see male clothes or female clothes, they're all the same.
    Edna Krabappel [arms crossed]: Are you saying that men and women are identical?
    Skinner: Oh, no, of course not! Women are unique in every way.
    Lindsay Nagel [arms crossed]: Now he's saying women and men aren't equal!
    Skinner [getting nervous]: No, no, no! It's the differences ... of which there are none, that make the sameness ... exceptional! [desperately] Just tell me what to say!
    [Skinner hyperventilates and faints]

    Also see the full page on education quotations.

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