Have schools become too hostile to little boys?

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21 2013 9:55 a.m. MDT

With millions of U.S. children returning to public schools in the coming weeks, the fact young boys are more likely than girls to struggle in education settings is as timely as ever.

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Via her new op-ed piece for Time magazine’s website, the author Christina Hoff Sommers is once again stirring up public discussion about the generally subpar academic performance of boys. “Millions of boys are struggling academically,” wrote Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “A large and growing male cohort is falling behind in grades and disengaged from school. College has never been more important to a young person’s life prospects, and today boys are far less likely than girls to pursue education beyond high school. As our schools become more risk averse, the gender gap favoring girls is threatening to become a chasm.”

Sommers' article for Time coincided with the re-release of her book “The War Against Boys,” an updated version of which Simon & Schuster published Tuesday. Barely six months ago, Sommers wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times with the headline “The Boys at the Back.”

“Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys,” Sommers summarized for the Times. “(A new) study’s authors analyzed data from more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subject areas received lower grades than their test scores would have predicted.”

Earlier this year, Hoff told NPR, “There's simply an intolerance for high spiritedness among little boys and … it's understandable that (teachers) prefer children who sit still. Girls are better at paying attention, sitting still, and so it's just that boys are going to suffer.”

In 2012, the Deseret News published an award-winning, two-part series about the “War on Boys.” Those articles covered issues like young men collectively losing ground in education and the cumulative effects of sex, media and violence on teens.

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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