Latest Post will go at the very top of this page

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce sagittis elementum turpis, vel commodo lectus convallis ac. Etiam tempus lacus at nisi consectetur porttitor. Nulla facilisi. Aliquam sed condimentum lorem. Proin dapibus purus non sapien malesuada ac sollicitudin purus condimentum. Praesent non gravida enim. Nullam congue commodo sapien, eu vulputate sapien venenatis eu. Aliquam libero ante, porttitor sit amet dapibus tincidunt, bibendum quis purus. Etiam dignissim, quam vitae imperdiet malesuada, lacus sem luctus ligula, non pulvinar sapien dui eget mauris.

This is Another Post Title Example that will go Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nulla convallis enim leo, sed commodo leo. Pellentesque quis ante urna. Cras eu augue in augue consequat eleifend non id nibh. Nunc at nisl nec enim lobortis ullamcorper. Aliquam mauris eros, commodo sed blandit quis, fermentum a sem. Proin tincidunt orci sit amet orci tempus eu aliquam nulla pharetra. Duis orci erat, cursus at lobortis eu, tempus ac risus. Aenean vitae metus et magna ultricies tempor. Donec dignissim ultrices sem, non iaculis neque dictum sit amet. Praesent aliquet imperdiet euismod. Vestibulum facilisis, eros vel placerat venenatis, urna nisl malesuada enim, quis aliquet massa purus at lectus. Nullam lacus tellus, sodales vel placerat eget, eleifend ac tellus. Quisque viverra metus quis ipsum consectetur vulputate. Proin metus magna, tempus non iaculis eu, lobortis sit amet neque. Morbi scelerisque posuere consequat.

[Read more…]

Taking a closer look at gender gaps in education

Richard Whitmire is an editorial writer for USA Today.

As the President of the National Education Writers Association, I have the annual privilege of handing over top awards won by education reporters from around the country. Now I’m thinking that privilege bears some responsibility, such as fessing up about times when education coverage dips below award-winning levels.

That happened Tuesday morning when I opened The New York Times and saw an article that did little more than regurgitate the American Association of University Women report making the dubious case that the “boy troubles,” as in boys falling behind in school and graduating from college at lower rates than girls, are a myth. Odd, I thought, a rare fumble by the Times.

Then I picked up The Washington Post, and there on page one was an article that did the same. At least this article had a dissenting view, but that’s not the point. Somehow, the AAUW had managed to pass off its advocacy report as research, not just to the Times and Post but the Wall Street Journal and other publications as well. (E-mail queries to the Times and Post reporters sent Thursday were unanswered as of this posting on Friday.)

When the surprise wore off, I had to smile: kudos to the public relations geniuses at the AAUW. Consider the odds behind their achievement. To succeed, the AAUW had to convince reporters that:

  • Gender gaps lie only between white and black, poor and non-poor and not within those groups. AAUW researchers had to know that with a simple check reporters would find huge gender differences, for example, among African Americans. How hard is it discover that black women graduate from college at twice the rate of black men? The gaps even extend to upper-class whites. Check out the research done by the Wilmette schools [2.6 MB PDF file] outside Chicago, one of the wealthiest and highest performing districts in the country.
  • Tests show that boys and girls score roughly the same. That conclusion is possible only by cherry-picking national survey data, which risks the possibility reporters might check state testing data where all students are tested. Those tests often show stark gender gaps, in many cases with girls swamping boys in verbal skills and at times edging them in math.
  • There are virtually no gender differences in the rate high school graduates enroll in college. Wow, so the boy troubles must truly be a myth! In that case, those pesky campus gender gaps must arise from benign causes such as older women more likely to return to college than older men. Truly a heart-warming story. Who doesn’t know of someone’s mom returning to college for a survey course in world culture? Problem is, a simple check of National Center for Education Statistics data reveals a 400,000-student gender gap among 18-19 year-old students. So much for the little-old-lady theory. (Even the professional education publications fell for that one.)
  • The AAUW provides unbiased research in the area of how boys perform in school. (Wait, does their mission statement even say anything about boys? Why are they dabbling in this?) Here, the group had to count on reporters being unable to recall the shaky “call out” research from its 1992 report, where girls were supposedly being shortchanged in school in part because teachers paid more attention to aggressive boys calling out in the classroom. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that entire report was riddled with problems. Here’s an interesting analysis of the AAUW’s track record as neutral researchers. (Full disclosure: At the time, I gave that report a full ride absent a single critical perspective. Hey, I thought I was doing my young daughters a favor).

    So, the AAUW pulled it off again. Reporters had forgotten about that 1992 report. No data were offered to dispute the notion that the boy troubles are really a race issue. No challenge to the college-going data. Everything, a clean sweep. I hadn’t planned on writing about the report, but when my editors saw the blowout coverage the report received they asked me to blog a debate editorial on the issue.

    At this point I have to declare my own bias. I’ve been writing about the boy troubles for years and I’m convinced they’re real, not only in the United States but in scores of countries around the world. You can view this as either making me prejudiced or informed enough to acknowledge a reporting fumble. Your call. From my perspective, this matters because the ideological chaff thrown up by groups such as the AAUW stands in the way of educators taking a serious at what’s happening to boys. Economists say the changing economy means men and women today (unlike in the past) get exactly the same benefits from a college degree and therefore should be graduating at the same rate. Only they aren’t. By 2015 women will earn, on average, 60% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded. Something’s not right here; that’s a lot of men not even getting to the economic starting line with that all-important diploma.

    My final take the AAUW’s coup: short-term victory, long term repercussions.