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Boys in Crisis

November 9, 2010

Beyond the goofiness and mess, part of the purpose of Mobmom is to focus attention on important  issues for boys and young men that make the news (and those that don’t).

There is a New York Times story  making the rounds about a new report showing the appalling education gap for African-American boys and news isn’t great for boys in general.

But a new report focusing on black males suggests that the picture is even bleaker than generally known.

Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.

Go back and read that again. Twelve percent.

That is barely 1 in 10 young African-American men who would be capable of reading a newspaper much less understanding a mortgage document or a rent agreement. Forget managing a budget or running a business.  For white boys, it is still less than half.

This is the civil rights issue of our time.

This isn’t someone else’s problem. This is a national security issue. This is an issue of central importance to everyone.

Isn’t a major point of an educational system to have an informed and employable populace? If so, we are failing at both.

The article goes on to mention some strategies to “fix” the problem from better early childhood education, social programs, better teaching, and other ideas that are usually mentioned when these statistics make the news.

The failing education system isn’t exactly news. Movies such as Waiting for Superman and Race to Nowhere spotlight some of the issues.

Boys, in particular, seem to be hard hit.

I don’t know the answers.

It is painfully  obvious that no one does in the large scale. There are bright spots to be sure, but a wholesale salvation of the system seems beyond our reach, financially and philosophically.

I’ll leave you with Time’s Joe Klein:

What does that say about our educational system generally? It says, not to put too fine a point on it, that we are becoming a nation of ignoramuses. For more than 40 years, ever since the publication of the Coleman Report, the key variable when it comes to educational achievement is parental involvement; all other factors–money, class size, choice and competition–are peripheral. Over those same forty years, parents have had to work harder to get by–two, three jobs in many cases–as good paying manufacturing jobs vanished. And, over that same period of time, the impact of crap culture–the Jersey Shore-ization of American Society–has increased exponentially. Those effects hit hardest on the poorest families and those with a single-parent trying to do the job of two…but they are endemic across the culture.
Parents matter. Moms matter.
Now more than ever, mothers of boys matter.

Read more:
Council of Great City Schools report on Black Male Achievement Reveals “National Catastrophe”



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