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"This Is a World Made for Women"

The Pell Institute's Thomas Mortenson says today's education system isn't preparing boys for the New Economy -- and that hurts women, too

BusinessWeek magazine, USA, May 26, 2003

Thomas Mortenson is a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. For a decade, his campaign has been a lonely and frustrating one: convincing educators, politicians, and parents that boys are in trouble. BusinessWeek Working Life Editor Michelle Conlin talked to Mortenson about how the crisis could affect women -- and why addressing the problems with boys in high school is too late. Following are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: About 20 years ago, there was a famous article in Newsweek about how women could pretty much kiss marriage goodbye if they hadn't walked down the altar by the age of 30. Of course, that turned out to be completely false. Much of the research the story was based on was discredited. But you believe that women could be in for store for a marriage squeeze -- a real one. Why?

A: Black women are really the canaries in the coalmine on this. Put simply, I believe white women are headed to where black women are today. If white women want to see the future of what will happen if men aren't brought along through the educational system with them, they should listen to the problems among black women today.

When I make presentations, I can see 95% of the women in the audience nodding to along to this, agreeing with me. I don't think some women -- and some gender feminists -- have fully thought through the idea of what it means to leave a generation of boys behind. And by the time this gender imbalance really hits whites, it will be too late. We're stuck back in the 1960s in terms of producing college-educated men.

Q: Still, you oppose affirmative action for boys in college.

A: Affirmative action in college doesn't get at the causes in the previous 18 years of a boy's life. The problems go all the way back into elementary schools. We need to start there and work our way up. By a time a boy is in high school, it's often too late.

So the answer is not to put a thumb on the scale of admissions to get Read More ..ys in. The answer is to use research and training to prepare schoolteachers. To help them create Read More ..gaging learning experiences for young boys in the same way we've done with girls.

Q: When did it hit you that something was awry?

A: I've been studying educational data for 30 years. Back when I started in 1970, women were far behind in college continuation rates out of high school. Then in 1990, it hit me. Why hadn't boys made any progress over this period of time? I started looking into it. Nobody else had reported it. Even people who run higher education hadn't been tracking this redistribution of enrollment. So I dug in.

Q: And this isn't just an American problem.

A: It's an issue throughout the industrial world -- women are just beating the pants off guys in college. The move away from a goods-producing economy is just killing men's jobs. But it's creating wonderful opportunities for women. Manufacturing has shrunk from 35% of GDP after World War II to 14% today. Within a decade it will slip to 10%. Then think about agriculture.

Q: Do you agree that women tend to be better-suited for the New Economy?

A: New Economy jobs tend to require communication skills, interpersonal skills. This is a world made for women. So the question in my mind is: How do we design educational experiences for boys that, from the beginning, are engaging and exciting to boys and are geared toward getting them into jobs in the service economy. Health care, business services, even education.

We can't allow boys to think, gee, just because they had fun in high school working on their cars with their hands that they'll be able to make much of a living in their lives. Of course there'll be some manufacturing jobs. But they are fast disappearing to China and South India. These guys that put their lives into the auto plant -- and then it closes -- they simply drop out of the labor force. They're lost.

Q: What would you tell elementary-school teachers?

A: I would get my boys out of the classroom, and we'd be in a field all day long chasing tadpoles and pollywogs and looking at swamp water. I certainly wouldn't have them sit down at a classroom desk and read a book in the first grade. I just don't think we've developed education that's appropriate for boys' learning styles.

We've tried to force this model that works so well for girls onto boys. And we're paying a very steep price.

Q: So what's needed now?

A: When I was growing up and it was thought that girls just couldn't do high-level math, the women's movement took up the cause. They put girls' feet to the fire to learn science and math. Now men need to do the same thing for boys. We need a boys' project.

Q: And women?

A: My belief is that until women decide that the education of boys is a serious issue, nothing is going to happen. Some women are threatened by the issue of raising boys' problems in the educational system because they're fear it will take away from the progress of women. That's not what I'm advocating. What everyone needs to realize is that if boys continue to slide, women will lose too.

Boy, 8, found dead; mom faces charge

Canadian Press, (various newspapers across Canada, including the Toronto Star) Aug. 16, 2006.

ISLE LA MOTTE, Vt. A Montreal mother recovering from alleged self-inflicted wounds will be charged in the coming days with murdering her 8-year-old son, whose body was found in Lake Champlain, a Vermont state attorney said today.

I am going to prepare a charge of first-degree murder, Grand Isle States Attorney David Miller said in a telephone interview. Read More ..


Yeeda Topham killed her baby son but walks free

Australian Associated Press
December 05, 2008

A WOMAN who killed her infant son by jumping with him from the eighth floor of a city apartment block has walked free after being convicted of manslaughter.

Yeeda Topham, 40, of Roleystone near Perth, had pleaded guilty in the West Australian Supreme Court to a charge of unlawfully killing 21-month-old James Topham on November 5 last year.    Read More ..

Mother Charged with Killing Her Baby

Firefighters Find Baby's Body In Washing Machine

Fire Officials Claim Fire Intentionally Set

NBC4-TV, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

LOS ANGELES, USA -- Murder charges are expected to be filed against a woman whose infant son's body was found in a washing machine after firefighters doused what they say was an intentionally set fire, authorities said Tuesday.

Latunga Starks, 32, was taken into custody last night, according to the Sheriff's Department Web site.

Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Dennis Shirey identified the mother and her nearly 3-month-old son, Michael Kelvin Thompson.

Toronto Star

Mother found guilty of drowning autistic daughter

The Toronto Star, By Peter Small, Courts Bureau, March 01, 2008

Xuan (Linda) Peng has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the drowning death of her 4-year-old autistic daughter Scarlett in a bathtub in the family home.

A Superior Court jury returned its verdict Saturday morning after two days of deliberations.

Scarlett Chen was discovered unconscious by her distraught father David Chen in the tub on the second floor of the family's townhouse on Rosebank Dr., near Markham Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E. on July 12, 2004.

Peng told police that she had put their daughter down for a nap in the adjoining bedroom, and had no idea she had climbed into the bathtub, which the woman had filled with water to clean some kitchen utensils.

However, seven months later, homicide detectives charged the 36-year-old Chinese immigrant with first-degree murder. The charges were later reduced to second-degree murder. Read More ..

Woman held in beating deaths of sons

Associated Press, Globe and Mail, Tuesday, May. 13, 2003, Page A15

TYLER, TEX. -- A woman accused of fatally beating two of her sons with rocks spent Mother's Day sobbing and muttering in a jail cell.

Deanna LaJune Laney, 38, remained on suicide watch yesterday at Smith County Jail, where she was held in lieu of a $3-million (U.S.) bond on capital-murder and aggravated-assault charges.

Ms. Laney is accused of killing Joshua Laney, 8, and Luke Laney, 6, and injuring their 14-month-old brother, Aaron. The toddler remained in critical condition yesterday at a Dallas Hospital.

In a call to emergency workers early Saturday, Ms. Laney reported that she had just "bashed their heads in with a rock," Sheriff J. B. Smith said. Read More ..

Mother Shoots father, has his Baby and then kills the Baby and Herself

Investigation into the Death of Zachary Andrew Turner (18 July 2002 to 18 August 2003)

Zachary Turner, a 13 months old baby, died at the hands of his fugitive mother, Dr. Shirley Turner, who killed him and then committed suicide on August 18, 2003.

Turner was facing extradition to the United States to stand trial for the 2001 murder of Dr. Andrew Bagby, Zachary's father.

28-year-old Dr. Andrew Bagby was found shot to death in Keystone State Park, 55 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A.

Turner fled to Newfoundland, Canada where Zachary was born. She was out on bail against the wishes of U.S. authorities at the time of Zachary's death. Read More ..

Globe and Mail

Canada's largest national newspaper

Some mothers have had enough hugs

The Globe and Mail
October 6, 2006

Toronto - As a female friend of Frances Elaine Campione put it, this after Ms. Campione was charged on Wednesday with murder in the death of her two young children, "That mother needs a hug."

In that line, widely repeated in Toronto and national media outlets, is a telling clue to what is so wrong with much of what happens both in the nation's family courts and in its child-protection system -- the pervasive view of the female of the species as constantly nurturing (except, you know, when she allegedly kills) and as in need of constant nurture (hugs all 'round, no matter what).

For the record, Ms. Campione was arrested two days ago after she phoned 911 to report that there were two dead children inside her Barrie, Ont., apartment, and shortly after, didn't police arrive to find the bodies of her own little girls, one-year-old Sophia and three-year-old Serena.

She and her estranged husband Leo were reportedly in the throes of a nasty custody battle, with Mr. Campione accused of assaulting his wife and the older child, and Ms. Campione allegedly alarmed, and/or depressed, at the prospect of losing that fight.

And The Globe has confirmed that involved with the family was the Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County. At the moment, the nature of that involvement is unknown -- except as it has been reported by neighbours who saw social workers at the apartment and say that, for a time recently, the girls lived with their paternal grandparents.

Mothers Who Kill Their Children
Canadian Press - Mother child abuse - sentenced 16 years in jail

Ontario woman convicted of son's starvation death granted full parole

Canadian Press
Wednesday, May. 22, 2002

KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) -- An Ontario woman who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in one of Canada's stiffest penalties for child abuse will be released on full parole after serving less than half her term.

Lorelei Turner, 38, and her husband Steven were convicted of manslaughter in July 1995 for beating and starving their three-year-old son John to death in a case that horrified Canadians who followed the trial.

But on Wednesday, a panel of the National Parole Board in this eastern Ontario city ruled Turner will be released but placed on probation until July 2011.

Until then, she must remain within 25 kilometres of her residence, is not allowed unsupervised contact with anyone under 16, and must continue to receive counselling.

"The board would have looked at the risk and obviously found a low risk to reoffend," Carol Sparling of the National Parole Board said Wednesday.

Teen Girl Murders Baby

Woman accused of throwing son off Oregon bridge

Teen Girl Murders Baby
Jillian McCabe is seen in an undated photo provided by the Newport, Ore., Police Department. (Newport, Ore., Police Department)

The Associated Press, U.S.A., November 4, 2014

NEWPORT, Ore. -- A woman who said she threw her 6-year-old son off a historic bridge on the Oregon coast was arrested after the boy's body was found in the bay, police said.

Police and firefighters in the coastal city of Newport, Lincoln County deputies and the Coast Guard searched the bay with boats and a helicopter after Jillian Meredith McCabe, 34, of Seal Rock called 911 at 6:25 p.m. Monday to report throwing her son off the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

The boy's body was found at 10:23 p.m. in the bay after it was spotted near the Embarcadero Resort, police said.

Mothers Who Kill Their Own Children


Affair led to mother murdering her own kids

Days after buying another woman Valentine's Day flowers, a Sydney father came home to find a trail of blood leading him to the bodies of his two young children lying next to their mother, a court has been told.

Australian Associated Press
Aug 24 2009

The woman had given the couple's three-year-old daughter and four-year-old son rat poison and an unidentified pink liquid before smothering them and killing them, court papers said.

She then tried to take her own life, the NSW Supreme Court was told.

Doctors agree the mother, from Canley Heights in Sydney's west, was suffering from "major depression" when she poisoned her children on February 19 last year.

She has pleaded not guilty to the two murders by reason of mental illness.

As her judge-alone trial began, the mother's lawyer told Justice Clifton Hoeben his client didn't think life was worth living after learning about her husband's affair.