I loved the Eric Carle / Bill Martin Jr book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” I loved it both as a child and as a parent reading it to children. The text was clear and the pictures were beautiful. It taught us how to see and identify basic things like colors and animals in a straightforward and enjoyable manner.
But the world is seemingly not so simple in a world pounding out millennial “my truths.” Simple pictures of animals are now Rorschach tests subject to varied interpretation. Colors are now blinded through a reverse prism of everything exiting as a blinding white – as in white male privilege.
Consider an important study performed at Stanford University of 260 million standardized test scores taken by third to eighth graders in the United States. The graphic pointed to remarkable and scary outcomes regarding the performance differences between boys and girls in school.
Hundreds of red circles marked the top of the chart showing girl test scores ranging anywhere from half to more than a full test grade level over boys in every part of the country, whether in the poorest or richest segments. The graphic clearly illustrated how girls scored dramatically higher on English tests all around the United States.
Further down on the page, clustered near the parity line between boys and girls, were the blue dots representing the math scores. Here the graph was more balanced, with girls out-performing boys by just a little in some markets, with boys outperforming girls by just a bit in more markets. The blue cloud appeared to have a slope indicating that boys in richer neighborhoods performed slightly better than those in poorer neighborhoods. In no sample did the maximum out-performance of boys in math even reach the smallest out-performance by girls in English. In English, girls outperformed boys by about 3/4 of a full grade, and in math the boys outperformed girls by roughly 1/3rd of a grade.
The graph was alarming in how poorly boys performed relative to girls in English. It begged the question of how to redo the entire English curriculum to address the failure of schools to educate boys. Are more male teachers needed? Are the choice of texts not appropriate for boys? Should there be a change in the classroom setting? In the creative writing syllabus?
But these questions that immediately sprang to anyone’s mind from the picture were missing in the New York Times coverage of study on June 17, 2018.
In an article titled “Math’s Variable: Boys Outperform Girls in Rich, White Suburbs,” the Times inverted the story into a different narrative. The Times wrote “In school districts that are mostly rich, white and suburban, boys are much more likely to outperform girls in math, according to a new study from Stanford researchers, one of the most comprehensive looks at the gender gap in test scores at the school district level.” For 24 paragraphs, the Times would explore the advantages of rich White and Asian households that “invest in more stereotypical activities,” like “daughters in ballet and their sons in engineering.” Because rich people are sooo stereotypical and non-progressive.
Only in the 21st paragraph of the article did the Times devote attention to the obvious and important conclusion of girls DRAMATICALLY outperforming boys in English. It wrote: “Girls continue to outperform boys in reading in school districts across the United States, regardless of income, and in most other rich countries. Parents have been found to talk more to girls from the time they are infants. Teachers say girls concentrate more on reading. Perhaps boys’ reading skills mature later. There could also be a role model effect: Women say they read more than men, while boys are steered more towards sports and video games.”
This article is a travesty of #AlternativeFacts and it undermines helping children that are truly falling behind. Our progressive society that looks to spend as much public money as possible to produce equal outcomes for poor-and-rich; White-and-Blacks and Latinos; boys-and-girls, focuses only on the narrow out-performance of rich white boys. The article noted how a wealthy white township where “the students are about 60% white and 30% Asian-American,” had “Boys and girls both perform well, but boys score almost half a grade level ahead of girls in math…. Boys are much more likely to sign up for math clubs and competitions, he said, to the point that the district started a girls-only math competition this year.” But there was NO mention of what is being done to help millions of boys perform better in English. Just “perhaps boys’ reading skills mature later.” Sorry. Nothing we can do to help boys in English. Move on.
Consider that the Times published this article at the same time as discussing the ultra-liberal New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s plans to upend the city’s strongest math and science high schools to reduce the number of Whites and Asians and increase the number of Blacks and Latinos. Are there any efforts to get more boys or Whites into the best arts high schools, like Fiorella LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts which is 74% female and 56% minority? Nope.
Our schools are grossly failing our boys in English and there is zero effort on their behalf, either by progressive politicians or left-wing newspapers. Boys are just younger versions of the ‘patriarchy’ that are future enemies for the racial and gender justice warriors. Stay on message: it’s all about rich white male privilege.
Perhaps that observation is part of the grade gap between boys and girls in English and language arts: boys and girls see the world differently, just as conservatives and liberals do. While math and science have strict rules about what is correct, the language arts are more fluid and subject to interpretation. And if women and liberals continue to dominate the teaching profession and direct the narrative of interpretation, the nation’s boys will likely continue to suffer.
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