Sunday, May 22, 2005


(At the college level, I think it mainly means that fewer men than women are willing to waste their time and money on a crap education. At lower levels I think it means that black males are much more likely to drop out than black females -- mainly for "attitudinal" reasons)

Harvard President Lawrence Summers, still doing damage control over some ill-chosen comments about women in the sciences, dug into his university's deep pockets this week and found $50 million to spend on improving the lives of women on his campus. Those 10-year investments in mentoring and child care are to be applauded. But don't come away from Summers' gifting with the wrong idea: On most campuses, the problem is with men, not women.

More than 57% of the freshly robed graduates parading across podiums this graduation season will be female, up from 43% in 1970. In Minnesota this year, women outperformed men in every degree category, earning more than two-thirds of the master's degrees and more than half the doctorates. That's good for the girls, but what about the boys?

The trends are almost universally grim. A Yale University report released this week shows that boys are getting expelled from preschools at more than four times the rate girls are. Given the impressive benefits that high quality preschools bestow on students, that's a problem. Nothing seems to improve much in elementary school, where boys quickly fall behind girls, especially in verbal skills. Not all boys, to be sure, but a disproportionate ratio. When boys are slow to pick up reading skills,educators are quick to conclude they suffer from some medical deficiency. Boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and four times as likely to be put on attention-deficit medication.

In middle school, that modest verbal gap from elementary school doubles in size. By ninth grade, the problem can't be hidden. That's when students begin a college-preparation sequence of courses that demand high verbal skills. No surprise that boys are a third more likely to drop out of high school. Many boys rally by the junior and senior years of high school. But by then girls have won most of the academic awards and school leadership roles. All that makes the girls attractive recruits for colleges.

Fixing the missing-male problem will take effort - something akin to the effort undertaken by parents and educators to make girls more successful in the classroom. Until that happens, audiences can only look up at the graduates promenading across the platform to receive their diplomas and wonder: Where are the men?



Ontario has unveiled a kinder, gentler math curriculum it hopes will stem the rising tide of high school dropouts. The government has made sweeping changes to Grade 9 math, in the more hands-on applied stream where staggering failure rates have been linked to a growing number of dropouts since the tough new four-year high school program began in 1999. Starting this fall, Grade 9 students in applied math will be expected to master nearly one-third less material while getting more practical lessons. As well, teachers will get more tips on how to make math relevant to teens.

Gone are subjects teachers deemed too abstract for many Grade 9 applied students, such as analytical geometry, the study of the steepness of "slopes" and lessons on the algebra needed to plot a parabolic curve. When marking, teachers will be encouraged to give more weight to a student's overall comprehension of math concepts, rather than simply follow a lengthy checklist of individual skills. As well, the new course will dovetail more smoothly with Grade 12 math studies for pupils interested incommunity college and the skilled trades.

And appearing in Grade 9 is the occasional reference to feet and yards instead of metres, for students who may be headed for a job in construction, where many measurements are still done in imperial units. "It's a phenomenal improvement. The big, big deal was to get less content crammed into the curriculum, and they've done that. It's huge," said Stewart Craven, math co-ordinator for the Toronto District School Board.

Rather than "dumb down" the curriculum, Craven predicts the changes actually enrich students' learning by removing a clutter of abstract concepts he said had no business in Grade 9 applied math in the first place. Many have called Grade 9 applied math the biggest roadblock to graduation for Ontario teens, because it was too similar to the more abstract academic course for those headed to university.

Fully 90 per cent of the material was the same in both courses, and teachers complained many applied students found the material too difficult. An alarming three-quarters of applied students failed to meet provincial standards on the latest Ontario-wide Grade 9 math test, compared to just one-third of academic students.

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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