Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

Maggie Gallagher: On Boys in School


Gallagher's first book, Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage and Sex, was published by Bonus Books in 1989. Judge Robert Bork called it "lucid, witty, profound, devastating," and George Gilder pronounced it "the best book ever written on men, women and marriage."

Currently an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, Gallagher has worked as an article editor of National Review, senior editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, and as a senior fellow at the Center for Social Thought.

APPLAUDING BOYS DOING BADLY

White Plains High School in Westchester County, N.Y., recently launched an innovative new three-year science course, used in 110 high schools nationwide, designed to connect high schools students to mentors in scientific fields who guide them through extensive research projects. Instead of learning about science, in other words, students do science.

But the news that the local newspaper chose to headline was that one gender dominated the science program: "Girls Outnumber Boys in Innovative 3-Year Course at High School" by a margin of 2-to-1. Did this provoke a flurry of worry by gender equity specialists that schools might be subtly discouraging one sex from competing? Did the ACLU warn the school that it was endangering its federal funding because Title IX forbids sex discrimination?

Of course not, you see, because the sex that is underperforming in White Plains' science courses is boys. When girls do badly, that's a social problem. When boys do badly, that's a triumph for gender equity. And not just in White Plains.

Christina Hoff Sommers recently reported the results of a visit to the annual conference of the National Coalition for Sex Equity in Education in the most recent issue of The Independent Women's Forum's magazine, The Women's Quarterly. It doesn't matter, she reports, how much evidence we have that in the late '90s, it is girls and not boys who are thriving in schools. Research shows that "Girls get better grades, they take more rigorous academic programs, and they are more committed to school than their male peers. The math gap favoring boys is closing; the much larger gap favoring girls shows no signs of diminishing. The current college freshmen class is 56 percent female, 44 percent male."

As Dr. Richard Grieg, a high school principal from York, Pa., described the gender realities in his school: "Students who dominate the dropout list, the suspension list, the failure list and other negative indices of nonachievement in school are males by a wide ratio." According to the National Center for Education Statistics, boys are almost twice as likely as girls (22 percent to 13 percent) to "often" or "usually" come to school without completed homework. Two-thirds of special ed kids are boys.

Yet gender equity specialists have not turned their attention to the question of why so many young boys are falling through the cracks. Instead, these "experts" view the schools' urgent mission as "re-socializing" boys. "Schools may, in fact, be training grounds for the insidious cycle of domestic violence," said one equity specialist at the conference. "Men fear that women will laugh at them; women fear that men will kill them," as one participant in the three-hour workshop on gender violence prevention put it.

Men who commit domestic violence are a small, albeit dangerous, proportion of the population. Treating all boys as thugs can only exacerbate their sense of alienation from a school system that increasingly, disproportionately fails them. And boys who fail have ways of taking revenge on a society as a whole.

No one knows why so many more of our boys than our girls fail at school, struggle with reading and increasingly fail to pursue college. But as Sommers puts it, "What we need, though, is an honest reckoning with the status of boys in this country," for "regarding and treating them as proto-harassers will only further aggravate their plight."

When gender activists stoop to scare tactics to demonize boys, that's a shame. When federal dollars fund this kind of fright speech, that's a scandal.

COPYRIGHT 1998 MAGGIE GALLAGHER


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