‘The Boy Crisis’ in school is a myth for middle-class white boys, write Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Chait Barnett in the Washington Post. Gender gaps in school achievement are small — except for black boys, who do far worse than black girls. “Boy-friendly” and all-boy classrooms with less stress on verbal skills won’t do the trick for most boys, the authors contend.
The Department of Defense offers a better model. DoD runs a vast network of schools on military bases in the United States and abroad for more than 100,000 children of service members. And in those schools, there is no class and race gap. That’s because these schools have high expectations, a strong academic focus, and hire teachers with years of classroom experience and training (a majority with master’s degrees). Of course, this solution costs money, and has none of the sex appeal of the trendy single-sex-school quick fix.
While DoD schools have some advantages — it’s easier to enforce discipline and mobilize parental support — they also educate students who move every few years and go through separations from parents. The DoD’s success is worthy of study.
I’d like to see more attention to engaging boys in learning, but I do think single-sex classrooms are unlikely to be the answer.