Are Boys in Crisis?

There have been many articles on the trouble that boys are having in school. Today I saw one disputing that. As usual I find the situation is a little more subtle and a little more complex than either side admits. Today's article states.

Although we have been hearing that boys are virtually disappearing from college classrooms, the truth is that among whites, the gender composition of colleges is pretty balanced: 51 percent female and 49 percent male, according to the National Education Association. In Ivy League colleges, men still outnumber women.

I have no doubt that the authors, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Chait Barnett, can support that fact. It is most likely true. However, a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by the dean of admissions of Kenyon College stated that many elite college have to work to maintain a 50/50 male-female ratio on their campuses. The article is no longer freely available at the New York Times, but I found this reprint.

Rivers and Barnett do admit to problems with non-white boys.

But among blacks, for every 100 males who graduate, 139 females do. Florida's graduation rates among all students show a striking picture of race and class: 81 percent for Asians, 60 percent for whites, 48 percent for Hispanics and 46 percent for blacks.

In my experience there are still problems with middle class boys. I have three daughters so my experience is indirect. My oldest daughter won an internship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, MD. The program takes the best high school students from around Frederick County, Maryland and brings them into NCI's labs to get experience with real science. Frederick County is majority white and increasingly suburban, but the the number of girls who won internships was strikingly large. I do not remember the exact count, but just the impression, "Where are the boys?"

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