In Fordham’s Flypaper, Erika Sanzi recently wrote about the crisis for American Boys in public schools. Excerpts of the piece appear below:
There was a time decades ago when girls trailed boys in math and science and we as a nation deemed that to be unacceptable. Starting in the 1970s, initiatives and organizations sprung up all over the place to help girls catch up. And they did. But as girls began improving in math and science, boys were on a decline that people either ignored or, worse, scoffed at as “just desserts” for those who had unfairly benefited from the patriarchy.
Girls currently outperform boys academically in virtually every way, starting in elementary school with reading scores that are consistently higher by double digits and the trend persists all the way through high school and college. More girls graduate in the top tenth and second tenth of their classes. They are far more likely to have GPAs equivalent to an A, while far more boys than girls have GPAs that equate to a C or below. There are more girls than boys in AP and honors classes. And women currently outpace men in obtaining associates degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.s.
But none of these remarkable and hard-earned gains by women do anything to mitigate what we have allowed to happen to our boys.
- Boys are more than twice as likely to get suspended from school and almost three times as likely to be expelled.
- Boys represent two thirds of the special education population. Almost 80 percent of these boys are Black and Hispanic.
- Sixty percent of high school dropouts are male. Ninety-three percent of prison inmates are male, and 68 percent of them do not have a high school diploma.
- Eighty-five percent of juvenile offenders are functionally illiterate. Seventy percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
These gender disparities in educational outcomes are significant for middle income and white boys, but they are jaw-dropping among Black, Latino, and lower-income boys. Black boys are in the direst of straits—nationally, only 10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys read at grade level. Black boys are more likely to be suspended and drop out than all other demographic groups. A Black boy is six times more likely to end up incarcerated as a white boy and five times more likely than a Black girl.