How Boys Lost Out to Girl Power
New York Times, New York, New York, U.S.A., By Tamar Lewin, 12 December 1998
No one's calling for affirmative action for boys just yet.
But given the fact that girls are becoming an ever larger majority at most American colleges, many educators are beginning to think boys should get more attention.
For several years, the conventional wisdom -- reinforced by a steady drumbeat of stories stressing female victimhood -- has been that girls are shortchanged in school, getting less attention from their teachers than boys and gradually losing their self-esteem as they enter adolescence.
By all kinds of measures, though, girls rule in school. They have better grades, higher reading and writing scores, higher class ranks and more school honors, and they are more likely than boys to take Advanced Placement exams in English, social studies and foreign languages.
Boys are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, be put in special education, be diagnosed with learning disabilities and be put on behavior-modifying medication like Ritalin. As teenagers, they are also far more likely than girls to commit suicide.
"The myth that the schools shortchange girls is dangerously wrong because it has diverted policy attention from the group at genuine education risk -- African-American boys," said Judith Kleinfeld, a University of Alaska professor, in a paper earlier this year that found that schools put boys at more of a disadvantage than girls. "This is the group that scores lowest on virtually every educational measure. This is the group where an enormous gap does exist between males and females. But the African-American gender gap favors females.
"The idea that boys need more help than girls do is slowly gaining currency nationally. "Something is changing," Ms. Kleinfeld said. "Just recently, people are beginning to be willing to think about boys' problems."
No one denies that the status of women remains a real issue in society. Despite the flood of women into business and the professions over the last two decades, women are underrepresented in corporate boardrooms, science labs and partnerships at law firms. And even in school, sexual harassment remains a problem.
Boys still dominate the nation's technical and engineering schools, and obtain higher scores on many standardized tests -- although those gaps are narrowing.
But some educators say the boys-versus-girls bean-counting has gone too far, that those gaps have become small enough that they are unimportant, especially when measured against the very large racial differences in educational achievement.
"They're saying thatmore girls take biology and chemistry, but uh-oh, there's more boys in physics," said Diane Ravitch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
"This is not an alarm bell ringing in the night," she said. "What we should be concerned about is the racial disparities. There's a four-year gap between blacks and whites on the national tests. The average black
17-year-old scores the same as the average white 13-year-old. That's a crisis, not gender."
Arthur Levine, president of Columbia University's Teachers College, takes a middle road, stressing that both sexes have unique problems that schools should address.
"It's not either-or, and we shouldn't always see things as the crisis du jour," he said. "We can do better by boys. We need to do a lot better with regard to racial and socioeconomic differences, and that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention to the special needs of girls."
The furor over gender equity was kindled in 1992 by the release of a study by the American Association of University Women, "How Schools Shortchange Girls," which declared that girls face bias from preschool through high school in textbooks, tests and teachers.
The association presented the situation as dire. "This report brings to light the pervasive inequalities that have made girls second-class students in America's schools," said Alice McKee, the AAUW Educational Foundation president at the time. "Girls and boys enter school roughly equal in ability. Twelve years later, girls have fallen behind in key areas. Whether one looks at achievement scores, curriculum design or teacher-student interaction, it's clear that our schools are shortchanging America's girls."
The report stimulated debate on teacher training and gender equity, experiments with single-sex math and science classes and new interest in girls' schools, including new efforts like the Young Women's Leadership Academy in New York's Harlem.
But based on extensive re-examination of the AAUW data and findings, Ms. Kleinfeld's paper found the report shoddy, biased and simply incorrect. She wrote: "In the view of elementary and high school students, the young people who sit in the classroom year after year and observe what is going on, both boys and girls agree: Schools favor girls. Teachers think girls are smarter, like being around them more and hold higher expectations for them."
Ms. Ravitch also believes that the AAUW report was grounded more on gender politics than educational reality.
"That first AAUW report was just completely wrong," she said. "What was so bizarre is that it came out right at the time that girls had just overtaken boys in almost every area. It might have been the right story 20 years earlier, but coming out when it did, it was like calling a wedding a funeral. It was phony, it dominated the news for years and it was harmful. There were all these special programs put in place for girls, and no one paid any attention to boys."
Janice Weinman, executive director of the AAUW, defends the report. " 'How Schools Shortchange Girls' was a wake-up call," she said. "I think it's because of that report that girls made progress in math and science."
Others have also found it valuable.
"To my mind, it was a good thing that the AAUW got us to worry about girls, because there is no question in my mind that women in classrooms were treated with less respect and interest than boys," said Frank Newman, president of the Education Commission of the States, a policy group in Colorado.
"The boy-girl problem is much deeper than education, it's a civic
responsibility problem. When I was a university president, dealing with discipline cases where someone was being expelled or suspended, it was always boys. I don't remember a single girl. We need to teach boys responsibility. That's why sexual harassment is still a problem. Boy-girl differences are still important, but they pale in comparison to the big differences in education, which are due to race and class." This fall, the AAUW issued a follow-up report, talking about girls' gains, as well as the areas where boys lag.
"I agree, the issue shouldn't be boys versus girls," Ms. Weinman said. "It should be equity and excellence for everyone. And we're not stuck in the same groove, singing the same song. Our follow-up report said number one, that girls had made real progress; number two, that boys had not made that kind of progress in the fields where they lag, and number three, that we should look at subgroups, like Hispanic girls or African-American boys, to determine where there are particular needs."
But even the new report emphasized a growing technology gap that leaves girls less equipped for skilled computer jobs, calling technology the new boy's club.
"It's a significant problem, and we're very concerned about it," Ms. Weinman said. "And it's true, we're the American Association of University Women, and our mission is to look at education for girls and women."
Woman convicted of killing 3 kids after custody battle
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, USA, August 26, 2008
HELSINKI, Finland - A court in Finland has convicted a woman of murdering her three young children and has given her a life sentence.
The Espoo District Court says Thai-born Yu-Hsiu Fu was found guilty of strangling her 8-year-old twin daughters and 1-year-old son in her home.
She tried to kill herself afterward.
The verdict on Tuesday says the 41-year-old woman was found to be of sound mind at the time of the murders.
Court papers show the murders were preceded by a bitter custody battle with her Finnish husband who was living separately from her at the time of the murders.
A life sentence in Finland mean convicts usually serve at least 11 years in prison.
ST. STEPHEN, N.B. - A New Brunswick judge says a woman who burned and dismembered her newborn son is criminally responsible for her actions.
Becky Sue Morrow earlier pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to a dead body and disposing of a newborn with the intent of concealing a delivery.
Judge David Walker ruled Friday that the 27-year-old woman may have been suffering from a mental disorder when she delivered the baby but that that was not the case when the baby's body was burned and its remains hidden.
It is not known if the baby was alive at the time of birth.
At a hearing last month, the court heard contrasting reports from the two psychiatrists. One said Ms. Morrow was in a "disassociated" mental state when the crime occurred. The other said she clearly planned her actions and understood the consequences.
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.
Mainichi Daily News, Sakai, Osaka, Japan, November 26, 2006
SAKAI, Osaka -- A woman accused of cutting off her newborn son's private parts in 2004 was ordered Monday to spend five years behind bars.
The Sakai branch of the Osaka District Court convicted Shizue Tamura, 27, a resident of Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, of inflicting bodily injury.
"The way she committed the crime was unprecedented, inhumane and cruel," Presiding Judge Masahiro Hosoi said as he handed down the ruling. Prosecutors had demanded an eight-year prison term. Read More ..
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"In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect."
(William J. Clinton)
42nd President of The United States of America
by Dr. Hazel McBride Ph.D. June 9-10, 1995
Violence and Abuse within the Family: The Neglected Issues
A public hearing sponsored by The Honourable Senator Anne C. Cools on June 9-10, 1995 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Transcript of Dr. Hazel McBride's presentation on the relationship between family conflict and suicide rates among men. Read More ..
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 ..
Nearly one in 10 girls and one in 20 boys say they have been raped or experienced some other form of abusive violence on a date, according to a study released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.