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03 Jul 2006 - 12:16
Warring op-eds today, one from Judith Warner in the TIMES, which lends itself well to a round of Find the Logical Fallacy;* one from Cristina Hoff Sommers in the Wall Street Journal. Both are subscription only, but you can leave comments on Warner's TIMES blog if you like (I have). From Warner:
It's been muttered for some time now in feminist academic circles that the "boy crisis" — the near-ubiquitous belief that our nation's boys are being academically neglected and emotionally persecuted by teachers whose training, style and temperament favor girls — is little more than a myth. Now a major study has confirmed it. According to "The Truth About Boys and Girls," a report from the nonpartisan group Education Sector, most boys aren't just not failing; they're doing better than ever on most measures of academic performance. The only boys who aren't — the boys who skew the scores because they're doing really, really badly — are Hispanic and black boys and those from low-income homes.
This is awful. A nonpartisan group. A major study. Please. Education Sector is not a nonpartisan group. I like Education Sector-eduwonk. I read Education Sector-eduwonk. But Education Sector-eduwonk is not nonpartisan. And The Truth About Boys and Girls is not a major study. The Truth About Boys and Girls is an exercise in data mining. In theory, I'm not against data-mining. As a matter of fact, I plan to learn how to mine data myself. I'm going to have to, since my district is now committed to data warehousing and, presumably, data-mining. I am going to have to learn how to do defensive data mining. So I'm not against data mining. But an exerecise in data mining released by Ed Sector is not a major study. Education Sector-eduwonk is a Clinton era centrist Democrat education think tank with a political agenda. That agenda is what Frederick Hess calls the "Washington consensus," and eduwonk is a Washington consensus enforcer. The Washington consensus:
There is now a Washington Consensus in education. It has been entrenched since the middle of the Clinton Administration, was integral to the crafting of NCLB in 2001, and for the most part remains intact today. It embraces three big ideas. First, that the nation's foremost education objective should be closing racial and economic achievement gaps. Second, that excellent schools can overcome the challenges of poverty. And third, that external pressure and tough accountability are critical components of helping school systems improve.
For a number of reasons, I've come to feel that it's time for this consensus to go. I've got to walk Christopher to camp - more later. In the meantime, the 9 comments posted on Warner's blog thus far are interesting (a couple are terrific - especially the first comment from a college professor). And, in the category of "it's always worse than you think," here is this data from Warner's op-ed:
The reading scores of 17-year-old boys overall have gone down in the past decade, hitting an all-time low in 2004. Judith Kleinfeld, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska, has done a thorough analysis of the reading skills of white males from college-educated families. Using Department of Education data, she shows that at the end of high school, 23% of the white sons of college educated parents scored "below basic." For girls from the same background, the figure is 7%. "This means," Ms. Kleinfeld writes, "that one in four boys who have college educated parents cannot read a newspaper with understanding."
This is great, too:
Today, for every 100 women who earn a bachelor's degree, just 73 men get one. Not to worry, says Ms. Mead. It is actually good news for young men, because more of them are going to college today than did in the '70s and '80s. By this reasoning, we need not worry about the relatively low wages of women compared to men, since in "absolute terms" women are doing better than in the past.
spaced repetition [A]t the end of high school, 23% of the white sons of college educated parents scored "below basic." For girls from the same background, the figure is 7%.
USA Today report on 135:100 boys:girls ratio in college
sexism in Everyday Math
boy trouble (New Republic on boys)
slacker boys, middle school, & forbidden positive images of boys in textbooks
throw rocks at them
please remain seated at all times
Ann Althouse thread sums up classroom change
cooperative vs. competitive learning
the girl show (8th grade graduation awards)
the boy show (character ed)
the other boy show
Where the Boys Aren't
boys & noncognitive skills
letter from Robert Lerner, former commissioner NCES
Tom Mortenson's research
The Boys Project board
for every 100 girls —
* bonus TIMES content: lots of parental unit bashing!
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You know, I was checking the Gadfly, and I saw that there was to be an interview with Sara Mead on the Gadfly Show. So I listened, but it was disappointing. As though she must be pretty hot-looking, and all Mike and Rick were doing was vying to ask her out on a date. Nothing substantive at all. -- BeckyC - 03 Jul 2006
good grief -- CatherineJohnson - 03 Jul 2006
double good grief this will come back to bite her on the bottom I predict -- CatherineJohnson - 03 Jul 2006
The only boys who aren't — the boys who skew the scores because they're doing really, really badly — are Hispanic and black boys and those from low-income homes. Oh so it's only Hispanic and black boys and boys from low-income homes who are failing, so there isn't a crisis as it's only a problem for those other people. So what Warner is saying is that "only the rich and the white matter - the poor can be doing as badly as anything but that doesn't mean there's a crisis". My god, I never expected to read something so racist/incomist in an article in the Times. -- TracyW - 03 Jul 2006
As though she must be pretty hot-looking, and all Mike and Rick were doing was vying to ask her out on a date. I should clarify: all Mike and Rick did was vie to ask her out on a date. They did a very poor job handling the interview. She was quite cool-headed; the two "boys" demanded no answers to substantive questions. -- BeckyC - 03 Jul 2006
If the blurb on the Washington consensus describes it accurately, then it pretty closely match my own opinions, and don't seem to contradict anything you've written about here. Catherine, exactly what do you object to about it? -- IndependentGeorge - 05 Jul 2006
Oh so it's only Hispanic and black boys and boys from low-income homes who are failing, so there isn't a crisis as it's only a problem for those other people. wow I didn't even see that and this happens constantly -- CatherineJohnson - 05 Jul 2006
Hi, Independent George! well, I'm wishing Ken were around to explain what I mean (he'd probably know!)..... I'm not quite able to pull it together yet, but there are a couple of probably unintended consequences that flow from the consensus: