Boys falling behind girls in education, experts look for solutions

Bruce Lindsay | KLS.com | February 10, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — American boys are losing ground

For the first time in U.S. History a generation of sons will have less education than their fathers while girls are graduating from college in record numbers. Women have also become a majority of the workforce.

Many believe the gap is beginning at a young age. Stereotypes, lack of support programs and education are several of many factors hindering boys’ progression, experts say.

David Brooks, a youth development professional at the Boys and Girls Club in Midvale, encourages the kids in his care to push past stereotypes.

“It’s more acceptable for a female to act like a boy but if boy does anything like a girl he gets made fun of,” he said after a yoga activity with some of the youth boys.

In addition to activities, he routinely gives the kids surveys about their goals and ambitions.

“There is a huge difference between the responses I get from girls and boys,” Brooks said. “Girls, they want to become nurses, doctors. And all of the boys, of course they say, ‘I want to be a soccer player, a professional football player.’ “

In the last three decades, hundreds of federal programs and initiatives have been created to help girls continue and finish their education. But no such programs exist for boys, according to Dr. Warren Farrell. He is part of the effort to change that, with the Proposal for a White House Council on Boys to Men. The commission identified five areas of problems at crisis level: education, emotional health, physical health, work and father involvement.

According to Lois Collins, a reporter with the Deseret News who has researched the topic extensively, said that the biggest catalyst to change would be putting fathers back in homes with their sons, giving the in-house role models.

While Brooks is not the father of the boys he cares for at the Boys and Girls club, he can act as a role model. He played football in college, graduated with a degree in engineering design and runs his own business when he’s not working with kids.

“We are trying to make a difference in society with our companies, with whatever it is we are just trying to make a difference,” he said.

Collins also talked to several experts who believe the public education system is better suited for girls.

“The teaching is geared for girls, the social aspect is geared for girls,” Collins said. “Boys do way better if they have the chance to get up and move around and compete and be a little bit boisterous.”

Bruce Lindsay: Email: blindsay@ksl.com
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