The New York Daily News published an article today about the low high school graduation rates of boys in the New York City high schools. The article by Kathleen Lucadamo stated that the four year graduation rate for girls was 50% compared to a 37% graduation rate for boys. Further, the article showed that the high school dropout rate was 13% for girls compared to 17% for boys. When you consider the pregnent girls usually do not graduate in four years, you would think the dropout rate for girls would be much higher than boys. The article compared the fourth-grade and eigth-grade students that were able to meet the New York State reading and math standards and found that the fourth-grade girls averaged 10% higher and eigth grade girls 8% higher in the reading test and yes the girls averaged 4% higher on the math tests for the two grades. Why are boys faring so poorly in the New York City public schools?
First, the article stated some of the blame lies in the absence of male elementary school teachers to serve as role models for the boys. Second, is the emphasis on testing. The article states that testing means a more structured classroom and boys don't respond well to a structured environment. Therefore, they don't test as well as girls. Third, the emphasis on academics mean less time for recess and physical education which is an outlet for the energy that boys need to release. Fourth, school has become more academic and less vocational which affects more boys than girls. While all of these factors may (or may not) have an effect on the boys poor performance in school the main reason is being overlooked. The absence of a father in the family structure.
A liberal radio talk host, Sam Greenfield, stated that 90% of all men in prison came from a single family household, a shockingly high figure. It is safe to say very few of these single family households are headed by fathers. The importance of a biological father in the family unit has been time and again shown to be extremely important, especially to boys. However, for some reason it seems not to be politically correct to bring this up when talking about education. Ask any dean when they deal with problem boys how few have biological fathers in their family unit. Yet we seem to ignore this very important factor. Is it just coincidence that as an increase in the percentage of single mother headed households occur the boys are falling behind the girls in school? I don't think so.
Is it any wonder that the boys are doing poorly in school? Look who they have as a role model? A father that has abandoned the family, probably not financially supporting the children, and maybe in jail or disappeared? The pity is that many educators tiptoe around this reason why many boys are doing poorly in school. They bring up nebulous factors (lack of male teachers in the elementary schools-always been that way) and trying to connect two independent factors (testing and physical activity- a real streach). While I do agree that the lack of vocational courses can affect boys more than girls, the lack of a father is by far is the real cause of the poor educational results for boys.
It is time that the political, community, and educational leaders stop their grandstanding and take on the real cause of the boys poor performance in schools. The absent father in the family structure!