Parental choice can remedy 'boy crisis' in education

By Krista Kafer ( And now for a quick quiz:

Which gender is more engaged in school? A) Boys B) Girls

Which is more successful? A) Boys B) Girls

Which is more likely to graduate from high school and college? A) Boys B) Girls

Which is less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior? A) Boys B) Girls

The answer is B) Girls for all four questions. Girls outperform boys on most indicators of academic excellence. Boys are more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior than girls. Surprised? Probably not. High-profile articles in Newsweek and other media outlets have elevated the boy crisis to one of national attention.

Only hardcore feminists and politicians continue to perpetrate the myth of the shortchanged girl. Congress, ever the slow student, continues to fund the Women’s Educational Equity Act to help supposedly beleaguered girls. Feminists wring their hands over the fact that there are more male engineers. Meanwhile, a third of senior high school boys cannot read a newspaper with understanding.

Here are a few more interesting facts from a new paper about this issue, authored by yours truly and published by the Independent Women’s Forum, one of my favorite organizations.

Engagement: In general, girls are more engaged and ambitious in school. They are more likely to get good grades. Girls are more likely to be in gifted and talented classes and to take Advanced Placement exams. They are more likely to do their homework. Girls have higher hopes and ambitions for school. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to get Ds and Fs, and the gap has widened since 1996. They are also more likely to repeat a grade. Boys account for roughly two-thirds of the students receiving special education services

Achievement: In terms of achievement, girls hold a significant advantage in reading and writing while boys hold a marginal advantage in math and science. A third of high school senior boys score below the basic level in reading meaning they cannot read a newspaper with understanding. While small contrasts between subgroups are inevitable annually, large disparities, particularly in the foundational skills of writing and reading, are reason for concern.

Graduation and College: In high school, young women are more likely aspire to go to college. They are also more likely to enroll in post-secondary education right after high school and to complete their post-secondary education. Altogether, women attain 58 percent of college degrees and outnumber men in the number of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Only among doctorate degree earners do men slightly outnumber women.

Risk Behavior: More boys than girls struggle academically and experience behavioral problems.

● Boys are more likely to do drugs, drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. ● Boys are three times as likely as girls to be suspended or expelled. ● Boys aged 16 to 24 are more likely to be unemployed. ● Boys are more likely to be incarcerated. ● Boys are more likely to commit suicide or to be homicide victims. ● Boys are more likely to drop out of high school.

What’s the solution? I should make you read the whole paper, but here’s a taste: I propose more school choice because only school choice can establish a framework for innovation, specialization, and the replication of successful strategies. There are schools – both public and private – that excel in helping boys and girls achieve. School choice (through charter school laws, vouchers, and tax credits) enables parents to choose these schools. Without choice, students remain in environments where they struggle and the system has no incentive to change.