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Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind Hardcover – January 13, 2010
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“…thorough, thought-provoking look at the increasing achievement gap between boys and girls…engaging read…offers arguments that could be used by…youth advocates to fund literacy and related programs for boys.” -- Voya
“… parent of a son, school reform advocate, elementary school teacher, or, most importantly a school administrator or member of …school boards…you need to read this book.” -- TucsonCitzen.com
“This is why we need reporters…an unbiased look at what is and isn’t working in schools. Plenty of real stories and real journalism.” — guysread.com
“…subject matter is compelling…sound advice—recommended for parents, educators, and others advocating for innovation and flexibility in their educational situations.” — Library Journal
"…excellent starting point for examining a problem that could have long lasting consequences if it’s not addressed soon….insightful look into a serious deficit in our educational system…" — Bismarck Tribune
“…addresses an important, and neglected, problem in our schools. Teachers and administrators should pay close attention to what Whitmire has to say.“ — Washington Times
“The gender gap will certainly be a difficult problem to overcome…but hopefully this book will help pave the way for a better understanding.” —Geekdad blog on wired.com
“… brilliant new book… I don't know of a clearer or more balanced examination of this issue…recommendations at the end of the book are sensible, creative and overdue…” — Washington Post
“…provocative and useful new book…” -- Diverse Issues in Higher Education
“…backed by extensive body of research about the gender gap that exists from prekindergarten through college worldwide…straightforward, fun, and void of educationese.”–The School Administrator
Chosen by The American School Board Journal as one of 2010's Top Education Reads.
The signs and statistics are undeniable: boys are falling behind in school. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the biggest culprits are not video games, pop culture, or female-dominated schools biased toward girls. The real problem is that boys have been thrust into a bewildering new school environment that demands high-level reading and writing skills long before they are capable of handling them.
Lacking the ability to compete, boys fall farther and farther behind. Eventually, the problem gets pushed into college, where close to 60% of the graduates are women. In a time when even cops, construction foremen, and machine operators need post-high school degrees, that’s a problem.
Why Boys Fail takes a hard look at how this ominous reality came to be, how it has worsened in recent years, and why attempts to resolve it often devolve into finger-pointing and polarizing politics.
But the book also shares some good news. Amidst the alarming proof of failure among boys—around the world—there are also inspiring case studies of schools where something is going right. Each has come up with realistic ways to make sure that every student—male and female—has the tools to succeed in school and later in life. Educators and parents alike will take heart in these promising developments, and heed the book’s call to action—not only to demand solutions but also to help create them for their own students and children.
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I consider myself a staunch feminist, and Whitmire did a really good job of gently calling out feminists for ignoring this problem, while never coming off as anti-woman. He argues convincingly that this is more than just girls catching up -- boys actually are failing. He makes a strong point that when so many of our boys are faring poorly, that's a problem for everyone.
Also, Whitmire raises the issue of the dwindling pool of "marriageable" men who would make acceptable partners for educated women. This is a well-established issue that now affects all ethnicities, and there have been a lot of interesting studies on "fragile families". The best take on this issue that I've ever seen is "Promises I Can Keep," a study of low-income single mothers.
One minor quibble -- Whitmire acknowledges the continuing pay disparity between men and women and admits that he's at a loss to explain it. Several recent studies have offered credible evidence that the salary gap doesn't occur between men and women, but rather between mothers and non-mothers. In other words, an urban, educated young woman is likely to earn a similar salary as her male counterpart -- the gap comes into play after that woman becomes a mother. Parenthood imposes a salary penalty on women, but not men. Future editions of the book might do well to incorporate that research.
This book documents a problem and looks at what has been going on in some schools to address the now know issue of our boys are falling behind from middle school thru college. The author is a journalist. He has done his research and presents examples of what is being done to help remedy this issue and offers some words about how to get more educators and government support behind efforts to narrow the gap between guys and gals.
I value this book and plan to donate it to the nearby public library. Hopefully others will read it and encourage their school boards to revamp education so that both their sons and daughters will acquire the skill-set they need to support themselves and their families.
As a former school board member, this book was a real eye opener about why and how the education system is failing our teenage males. So good, I have given copies to friends. Just an example, to keep the test scores up (the tests are generally given in the 10th grade), many schools keep the low performing males in the 9th grade so they won't pull down the school's 10th grade scores. You end up with something called the "9th grade bulge" where so many 9th grade males are retained that there are significantly more males in the 9th grade than in either the 8th or 10th grade. The schools seem to hope that the retained students will just drop out and will never lower the test scores. Just one of the unintended consequences of good ideas gone bad.
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I once had friends who worked for the education department of the Australian state of NSW.Read more