Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

“Nearly as many men are behind bars or on probation and parole (5 million) as are in college (7.3 million).”

I found this article interesting and intriquing. Is it true?

Where the Boys Are, released in 1960, is the quintessential college spring-break movie. Today, visitors to college campuses can’t help but ask: Where are the boys?

Currently, 135 women receive bachelor’s degrees for every 100 men. That gender imbalance will widen in the coming years, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education.

This is ominous for every parent with a male child. The decline in college attendance means many will needlessly miss out on success in life. The loss of educated workers also means the country will be less able to compete economically. The social implications – women having a hard time finding equally educated mates – are already beginning to play out. [That’s a big “Ouch.”]

But the inequity has yet to provoke the kind of response that finally opened opportunities for women a generation ago. In fact, virtually no one is exploring the obvious questions: What has gone wrong? And what happens to all the boys who aren’t in college?

Some join the armed forces, but the size of the military has remained steady, at about 1.4 million, for the past decade. For the rest, the prospects appear dark:

The workforce. Thousands of young men find work as drywallers, painters and general laborers, but many have troubling landing jobs. The unemployment rate for young men ages 20-24 is 10.1%, twice the national rate. As for earnings, those who don’t graduate from college are at a severe, lifelong financial disadvantage: Last year, men 25 and older with a college degree made an average of $47,000 a year, while those with a high school degree earned $30,000.

Prisons and jails. Nearly as many men are behind bars or on probation and parole (5 million) as are in college (7.3 million). [Hold it…we’re throwing out a lot of statistics here, are we not? Who is struggling? What types of men? Backgrounds? Race? Etc.?]

“Lost.” Young people who aren’t in school or the workforce are dubbed “non-engaged” by the annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. But “lost” sounds just as accurate. About 3.8 million youth ages 18-24 belong to this group, roughly 15% of all people of that age. Though there are no gender breakdowns for this group, the pathways leading to this dead end – dropping out from high school, emerging from the juvenile justice system – are dominated by boys.

While demographers and economists have a pretty good idea where the boys end up, educators are largely clueless about the causes. Some say female teachers in elementary and middle schools, where male teachers are scarce, naturally enforce a girl-friendly environment that rewards students who can sit quietly – not a strong point for many boys, who earn poor grades and fall behind. Others argue that a smart-isn’t-cool bias has seeped into boys of all racial and ethnic groups.

Solutions are just as uncertain. Hiring more male teachers would likely help, as would countering the anti-intellectual male code. But it’s not that simple. Many boys leave middle school with pronounced shortcomings in verbal skills. Those lapses contribute to the low grade and high dropout rates.

Surely, a problem that creates crime, increases unemployment and leads to hopelessness deserves attention. Where are the boys? Too often, going nowhere.

According to Education Watch:

The lack of boys on campus just means that boys are wising up faster than girls to the uselessness of many degrees. And none too soon. Ivar Berg demonstrated the uselessness of most tertiary education 30 years ago — and educational standards have certainly not risen since then. Unsurprisingly, the article also fails to mention race differences. It notes the large male population in jails as if it were a problem for all males when in fact it is mainly a problem for black males. The article is basically a sanctimonious attempt to scare young males back into college by way of gross misrepresentations of what a lack of college education generally leads to. Read Berg’s book (now out in a 2003 edition) for the real facts of the matter.

Thoughts? Is this just “girls are better than boys so you guys need to get back into college to show them up” or is it “we’re worried about boys today.” Or could it possibly be that it’s completely true, and we need more male teachers or whatever? I’m sure my female readers were heartily agreeing that they’re having a harder time finding males with the same brain capabilities. But let’s not get into that debate–guys are always smarter, right?

Of course, the best solution would be to homeschool your kids. That would solve a lot of problems.

11 responses to “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?”

  1. Tim,
    Thanks for the great blogging. Stay humble and love the Lord.

  2. Tim says:

    I appreciate that Eric…thanks for stopping by.

  3. Karen Kovaka says:

    Tim, that was a fascinating post. It was news to me, but I can certainly relate. I live in the midwest, where many young men go into the workforce and bypass college. Even many homeschooled young men make that decision. Personally, I think it’s disappointing because so many people who could accomplish great things are settling for accomplishing good things.

  4. John M. Kirton II says:

    GREAT article! While homeschooling could be a solution, wouldn’t just responsible parents (DEFINTION: one man, one wife, for life!) raising their children in a Christian environment be sufficient enough? If you have the time, read James Dobson’s “Bringing Up Boys”.

  5. Glenn Piper (UK) says:

    This is just the natural outcome of the bias in education towards an enviroment that favours girls. To suggest this nearly always raises a howl of protest from feminists, but it is true.
    Too many young men growing up these days are unsure of what it means to be a man, to be masculine.
    Good role models are few and far between. The break down of the marriage ethic does not help either.
    The anti-God emphasis of many areas of society are also a contributing factor.
    There are of course many other things thsat contribute to this disturbing trend. Prayer and more prayer and a committment by men to learn how to be true men of God so they can set an example to young men and boys growing up today would maybe help somewhat.

  6. Warren Kelly says:

    I think that there is a lot of pressure on young men to make something of themselves quickly. Especially in rural areas, even the most talented and intelligent see their classmates earning good money working labor-intensive jobs (welding, auto mechanics, etc.) and question the value of a college education. We place more value on earning a wage than contributing to society, so those who could contribute to society aren’t encouraged to do so.

    That said, I know many teachers who have told me that nothing they learned in their education program at college made teaching any easier. I know succesful businessmen who don’t have an MBA, or even a business-related undergrad degree. A lot of it depends on the individual, and what they are going to do. There are some careers that make an education much more valuable than others.

  7. Tim says:

    You guys are right on! I think it has to do with a breakdown in the family (doesn’t it all come down to that?) and Warren is right as well. I think it depends on the individual many times…

  8. I couldn’t get the trackback to work, but I have just posted a careful examination of the above article on The Rebelution. I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks for the tip.

  9. Tim,

    Heard your interview with Albert Mohler and thought I’d drop by. Most impressive. You certainly live up to your reputation.

    In regard to your post: The National Center for Education Statistics ( released a report indicating a rapid decline in student satisfaction with their education. From 1983 to 2000, the number of students who stated that their curriculum was “often or sometimes meaningful” fell from 40% to 28%.

    However, a study done in 2002 indicated that over 90% of graduating highschool seniors were intending to continue to college or some other post-secondary education.

    This brings up two obvious questions: why are students continuing their education in such numbers if they believe it to be a waste of time? And of the roughly 9% that do not, how many are male?

  10. Tim says:

    I appreciate that Mr. Watts…and interesting facts as well.

  11. Hannah says:

    Are we supposed to be surprised that there is a shortage of men in the U.S. (notice I said “men”, not “males”) when most fathers depicted in TV, movies, and popular music are weak, dishonorable, childish people, with the brains of goldfish? What role models do the boys of our generation have to turn to?

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