About the Boys

Christina Hoff Sommers has a great piece in today’s New York Times about how to improve boys’ school performance. Christina was ahead of the curve on this, publishing The War Against Boys in 2001. 

Here, she argues that the huge push 20 years ago to help girls with math and science was successful, and that boys, who are struggling compared with girls at every level of education, deserve no less. 

She quotes Richard Whitmire, an education writer, and William Brozo, a literacy expert:

The global economic race we read so much about — the marathon to produce the most educated work force, and therefore the most prosperous nation — really comes down to a calculation: whichever nation solves these ‘boy troubles’ wins the race.

Sommers thinks that may be an overstatement, but writes that “boy-averse trends like the decline of recess, zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, the tendency to criminalize minor juvenile misconduct, and the turn away from single-sex schooling” have hurt boys.

There are many reasons to attempt to help boys do better in school, and Sommers touches on many of them. But here’s one that’s a little sensitive: marriage. With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry. Women prefer to marry their equals or superiors. Very few marry “down.” It’s just a fact. Among blacks, women are twice as likely as men to earn a college degree. 

Since we know that married people are happier, healthier, and better for society, what Hanna Rosin has too blithely called “The End of Men” is a profound challenge to the happiness of all.