Why Boys Fail” isn’t only the title of a new book but the subject of a question enlightened educators are starting to ask. It’s an important issue that’s been underreported. The statistics that show American boys failing in school from kindergarten through grade school are overwhelming.

The National Assessment of Education Progress, the “national report card,” tells us that girls outscore boys by an average of 24 points on writing assessments. (Boys still score higher in math and science, but the gaps have narrowed tremendously.)

Richard Whitmire, the author of “Why Boys Fail,” said that nearly 23 percent of the white sons of college-educated parents score “below basic” in reading skills compared with 7 percent of the daughters. Among recent college graduates, women accounted for 62 percent of the two-year associate’s degrees and 57 percent of the bachelor’s. He also noted that 70 percent of special-ed students are male.

These are sobering numbers and can’t be easily dismissed. Across the board, boys are underperforming academically. (I’ve been working with Fox 29 News to examine this issue.)

The big question, of course, is why? Historically, boys in general had been behind girls in the early years in school. Girls have a tendency to have more advanced verbal and literary skills.

One of the 10 commandments of teaching was to tell parents that boys would catch up. Sadly, many educators are still telling parents that today.

Don’t buy it. Due to the demands of the information age and No Child Left Behind, Whitmire postulates that kindergarten students are being asked to do what used to be expected in the second grade. Also, he points out, even in math there’s much more of an emphasis on word problems than past emphasis on calculations.

Another driver of this trend is that over the last 20 years, there has been a conscious movement to bolster girls in school, particularly in math and science. This has worked admirably, but there is a sense that the efforts may have created classrooms that aren’t receptive to boys. Things like an emphasis on cooperative learning and the reading materials that appeal to girls are areas that cause difficulties.

Another factor is the home environment. Many parents, particularly fathers, push and encourage their sons to be active in sports. I think it’s great to see kids active, particularly when childhood obesity is a growing problem. But in many cases there’s a significant imbalance between athletics and academics. Many parents refuse to make the obvious adjustment.

During my years as a high-school teacher, I had many tense conferences with parents about underachieving sons. When I suggested that some sports and other commitments should be curtailed to devote more time to turning around their sons’ grades, many were actually offended. You’d have thought they believed their son was being asked to give up a kidney.

How do we disrupt this trend and rescue boys? In an interview in the WashingtonPost, Whitmire says the true start to a solution will take a “politically incorrect” decision requiring the federal government to admit, for the first time, that the problem exists. This would open up money to study the problem and come up with possible solutions.

But the first step to closing the gender learning gap starts in the home. Education needs to be a priority. Parents, particularly fathers, need to let go of the notion that the measure of their sons’ success and acceptance depend on their involvement in sports.

Fathers also need to play a strong, active role in their sons’ education. Studies show that boys improve their reading skills when the father reads at home. Parents need to set good examples as “lifelong learners” and sound study habits have to be ingrained in boys, particularly in their formative years.

I DON’T BELIEVE boys and girls are “wired differently” when it comes to learning.

Under the right circumstances, boys and girls are equally capable of being academic achievers. But I do believe many parents are wired differently when it comes to raising boys.

If they fail to make education the priority in the home, it’s more likely the boy is going to fall short in the classroom. (…)

HOME IS THE NEW FIRST GRADE – Teach Your Child to Count to 10 – Early Learning Method

Source: Philadelphia Daily News – http://tinyurl.com/35t9nlm