Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

The real crisis in education

with 3 comments

The feminist blogosphere is positively gleeful this morning over the release of a report debunking the “boys’ crisis” in education. The Washington Post has published a decent breakdown of Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education, published by the American Association of University Women, but the executive summary and full report are also online and quite readable.  

The report points out that women’s gains in education have  not come at the expense of boys. Women have made significant progress in all educational indicators over the last few decades, but boys’ scores and graduation rates have also been steadily improving. But they also say that 57 per cent of undergraduate degrees awarded in the United States are going to women.

Boys are improving, but girls are improving more, to the point where they have surpassed boys. There’s certainly been a lot of ugly anti-feminist backlash on this, so I hate to go against the party line, but I think if it were girls that were making progress more slowly than boys, we would say that girls were “falling behind.”

Anyway, this is not the most important part of the report, which is an attempt to refocus on the definite inequalities in education. There is a crisis, but it’s about race and class:

As this report demonstrates, however, neither girls nor boys are unilaterally succeeding or failing. The true crisis is that American schoolchildren are deeply divided across race/ethnicity and family income level, and improvement has been too slow and unsteady.

As Feministing points out, the media coverage of the “boys’ crisis” discounted this, with its “magazine covers with sad looking white boys.” As in so many cases, the focus needs to be on race and class.


Written by Allison

22 May 2008 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses

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  1. I think the real crisis remains heavy govt. involvement in and control of education, followed closely by teachers’ unions.


    24 May 2008 at 2:30 pm

  2. I can’t say about your crisis but in the USA there are many factors. Wealthy areas where professionals and business people work receive more funding from their obviously greater tax base.

    As our society has become more and more consumer obsessed, the lower range kids feel low self esteem. For instance, my father in the 30’s did not have low self esteem because he was poor. Without a lecture, you know what I mean. I really don’t like people laughing about trailer trash. this hurts children.

    Call me old fashioned, because there are areas where I am, but the family has broken down a wee too much. Boys need Dads. I don’t like all this single mom stuff. I have seen so many boys at the juvenile rehab I worked at, boys without fathers, with drug addicted guardians. But there is probably no turning back. People need to get it together, stay strong as a family.

    Maybe that is a long way of saying, yes, it is about race and class.

    Early childhood education and government funding for it is more important than many realize. Some say the last year of school is as crucial as the first. In that, I think the government should be involved as well as reduced or free lunches for low income children.

    However, this No Child Left Behind Bush came up with is disliked by many teachers. Teachers need the freedom to follow curriculum they believe in, it can’t all be feed to them. My daughter’s sixth grade teacher was actually going to have to stop Shakespeare because it wasn’t in No Child Left Behind test. They teach to the test, which is wrong.


    25 May 2008 at 11:52 pm

  3. But what about the lower-middle class and lower class white males? This may sound like stupid question, but it’s not meant to be. And what about people whose class indicators are just fine but go to schools which aren’t very good due to class based issues. People like that don’t get many breaks, even though it seems like they deserve them as much as any other disadvantaged group in America.

    Any ideas on how to handle those cases?


    31 May 2008 at 3:40 pm

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