"Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood..."
- The Animals
I'm probably going to make someone angry with this one, but it needs to be said. So hang on.
I received the following e-mail from my daughter's middle school today:
This is a message for the parents and guardians of *** Middle School girls. All girls are invited to attend Girls Night Out! Wellness Fair this Thursday, March 26th from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. at *** Middle School. SIS stands for Sisters in Success, which is a program aimed at middle school girls in the *** School District. The goal is to empower young women to believe in themselves and to build healthy relationships with peers, family, and strong women in the community. Thursday we will have several local women who will be providing opportunities for our girls to learn about yoga, self defense, nutrition, skin care with Mary Kay cosmetics, organic cooking, and more!
All girls are welcome to attend and may sign up with their school counselor or Mrs. ***. Each girl is encouraged to bring a special adult female with them or we can pair them up with one of the female adults from *** who will attend. Girls need to sign up by Wednesday morning.
On the surface, this seems fairly innocuous (despite the weird emphasis on "cosmetics" and "organic cooking"). But it got me wondering: why don't I ever see anything like this for the boys in the school?
It seems to be a trend. President Obama recently established the "Council on Women and Girls", and stated the following: "So now it's up to us to ... ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements — and that they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers never dreamed of," Obama said. "That's the purpose of this council; those are the priorities of my presidency."
Again, good goals, all. But will someone please tell me how our daughters and granddaughters currently have "limits on their dreams"? It seems to me that there has been no better time in history to be a girl in America. I'm serious. I know I'm sure to catch some flack for this, but the world is wide open to my daughters in a way that it never has been, and in a very real way, they're better off than my son.
Because our schools are, by in large, failing our boys.
To wit—the following article from Richard Whitmire, President of the National Education Writers Association:
Consider it mentioned here...for all the good it's going to do. Believe me, I have nothing against empowering girls and women. I want all our kids to succeed, male and female. All I'm saying is that our boys are falling behind, and it's a tragedy that they're not being given more (or, dare I say it, equal) attention. It's not an either/or situation. We can do both.
Hardly a month goes by without another major foundation or education advocacy group reminding us of the peril our country faces if we don't send more students to college. The International Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warns that the United States is slipping fast in international rankings. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, we rank no better than 10th in higher education attainment. Most striking among the measures is the "survival rate," the measurement of enrolled students who actually earn diplomas. Our students rank at the bottom of the developed world.
Visit the Web sites of the prominent foundations -- Gates, Lumina, Broad -- and you will see the same message that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporate leaders such as Intel's Craig Barrett have been warning about for years: We need to broaden the college pipeline, and do it quickly. The latest study pointing out our educational weaknesses – and offering solutions – arrived earlier this month from the respected MDRC, which offered the Obama administration a 15-point plan for turning things around.
Interestingly, however, there's something all these groups studiously avoid talking about. These U.S. education numbers look bad primarily because the schools are failing boys. For the most part, those awful high school graduation numbers are driven by boys, not girls (32 percent of boys drop out, compared to 25 percent of girls). And the lackluster college graduation rates are due primarily to men floundering in college (men earn about 42 percent of four-year degrees). Given that men are far more likely to major in math and science – a special worry for the technical industries -- the chamber should be particularly concerned about men falling behind.But the gender angle never gets mentioned.
Related: "Bring The Boys Along"