|Back to April Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 231||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||APRIL 2005|
|The New Gender Gap: Reading|
These academic trends have caught the eye of First Lady Laura Bush, who recently launched an initiative called Helping America's Youth to focus on boys at risk. "A lot of the problems associated with boys are because they are not successful at school," she told Education Week (2-23-05).
Female classroom culture
The gender gap in reading, which Education Department statistics show widened from 1992 to 2002, carries over into young adulthood. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced last summer that 59% of young women read books in 2002 while only 43% of young men did so. Both percentages represent a significant decline from 1992, but the gender gap rose from 8 to 15 points.
Few heroic stories
In middle schools, "Young Adult Literature" short novels about teenagers with depressing problems such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorced parents and bullying and "culturally relevant" literature appealing to ethnic group identification have become endemic. "There is no evidence whatsoever that either of these types of reading fare has turned boys into lifelong readers or learners," Bauerlein and Stotsky observe. (Washington Post, 1-25-05)
Single-sex classes address gap
They have received encouragement from Michael Gurian, author of Boys and Girls Learn Differently. "We're at the point where we've identified more than 100 differences between the male and female brain," he told the Washington Post (1-8-05).