In a recent Atlantic article, Christina Hoff Sommers makes the case that boys are increasingly detached from school, a fact that handicaps them for the rest of life.  She writes that as college becomes increasingly important to success, boys are entering at much lower rates and consequently are falling behind. She’s adamant that society must face the problem:

“What can we do to improve the prospects of boys? For one thing, we must acknowledge the fact that boys and girls are different. In many education and government circles, it remains taboo to broach the topic of sex differences. Many gender scholars insist that the sexes are cognitively interchangeable and argue that any talk of difference only encourages sexism and stereotyping. In the current environment, to speak of difference invites opprobrium, and to advocate for male-specific interventions invites passionate and organized opposition. Meanwhile, one gender difference refuses to go away: Boys are languishing academically, while girls are soaring.”

I recently appeared on MSNBC’s The Cycle to discuss the new edition of my book The War Against Boys . The four hosts were having none of it. A war on boys? They countered with the wage gap and the prominence of men across the professions.

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Good Read: Is School Failing Boys? 19 September,2013Katrina Schwartz
  • MikeSadofsky

    And this boy differs from that boy; this girl from that girl. They are individuals with similarities and differences. Let them each develop according to their individual interests and timelines. The only school that I am aware of that encourages this (through its structure and practices is the Sudbury Valley School and those that are modelled on it. Check it out at

  • Melanie

    If boys are failing in school and girls are succeeding, then why are most CEOs, boards of directors, and all U.S. Presidents men? Clearly not all boys are failing.
    I’m tired of hearing sob stories for boys in school. Until at least half of the world’s power is claimed by girls/women, there is simply no need to focus more on boys than on girls and articles like this are counter-productive for both genders.

    • Christian Klaue

      Consider the words you chose: boys are failing vs CEO’s etc men. One is current, the other future. In the past boys were not failing in the same way that they are now. Revisit this issue in 30 years, when current boys become men (at least in age) and look at what the gender composition of business leaders is. Consider the difference between today and 30 years ago as well. Boys may have done well, but current trends for boys is quite alarming.

  • lady G

    I disagree. I have 4 sons and 3 out of the 4 are doing pretty well in school. I believe that it depends on the effort parents put into their children starting at home at an early age…and if the parents remain very involved to understand their children learning styles throughout their school experience. It’s our job to help our children adapt to teaching styles as they change from teacher to teacher. Boys can easily be placed in box that says they are “languishing academically” ONLY if we (the adults/parents/guardians/educators) allow it to happen. It’s our job to step in and guide them in the right direction… show them how to study… help them to create a life goal…become organized… because most cannot do it on their own. Excelling in school is easy for some and a challenge for others. When our children (boys) face challenges, it’s time to step in and model ways to solve problems not put them into a special delinquent category.


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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