- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2006

First lady Laura Bush and a growing number of physicians, educators and psychologists say Americans need to wake up and see that boys lag far behind girls in school, and then demand that something be done.

Mrs. Bush, mother of two grown daughters, speaks at conferences and in interviews about the declining status of boys in today’s learning environment. She has charged that boys are being overlooked.

“I think we need to pay more attention to boys. I think we’ve paid a lot of attention to girls for the last 30 years … but we have actually neglected boys,” Mrs. Bush told Parade magazine early last year.

William Pollack, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, agrees.

“Boys are suffering. They are sitting in classrooms where they can’t perform at the same level as girls and so cannot compete with girls,” he says. “As a result, they have lower self-esteem. The bottom line is that they are suffering both academically and emotionally.”

Mr. Pollack, who also serves as director of the Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., points out that both upper-class Caucasian boys and minority boys are failing.

“All in all, most schools across the country today are boy-uncentered,” he says.

Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, co-authors of “The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life,” back up claims that there is a “crisis in male education” with data from the Department of Education, the State Department and other sources. They point out that boys:

• Receive the majority of D and F grades given to students in most schools, as high as 70 percent.

• Create 80 percent of classroom discipline problems.

• Account for 80 percent of high school dropouts.

• Represent 70 percent of children diagnosed with learning disabilities and 80 percent of those diagnosed with behavioral disorders.

• Are an average of a year to a year-and-a-half behind girls in reading and writing skills. (Girls are behind boys in math and science, but to a lesser degree.)

• Represent 80 percent of schoolchildren on Ritalin or other medications used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

• Make up less than 44 percent of America’s college population.

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