A new book suggests giving boys an extra school year | American Enterprise Institute

of boys and men It is the rare political book that has the power to stir controversy even with readers who have thought long and hard about its subject. These readers will find plenty to debate among the book covers, but Reeves deserves great credit for starting a public conversation about what has happened to boys and men in the modern world.

Reeves is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he studies inequality and opportunity. his previous book, Dream Chunkyswam against the tide of populist anger at the “top one percent” for saying that, in fact, there is an uncomfortable inequality problem we need to discuss: that between the bottom half of Americans and those in the upper middle class, including the core public Dream Chunky. of boys and men Reeves once again finds that he takes seriously an unfashionable form of inequality: the widening of social and economic disparities and the trends that run counter to boys and men in favor of girls and women.

Boys and young men are left behind in school

I worked at the Brookings Institution a decade ago, right across the hall from Reeves. (I must confess that Reeves was a great friend who once pushed me to sing at a piano bar.) At the Brookings Institution, it seemed like not a day went by without someone asking, “What’s wrong with men?” The issue has been on the radar for some time. However, I was surprised by the amazing educational gaps that Reeves presents in his new book.

Start with young children. Besides one broad measure of “school readiness,” boys who enter kindergarten lag behind girls as much as black children compared to white children. Language arts test score gaps in primary and secondary schools strongly favor girls, while mathematics gaps (sometimes in favor of boys) are relatively small. Nationally, two-thirds of the ninth graders in the top 10 percent of the average distribution of class points are girls, while two-thirds of the bottom ninth graders are boys. Reeves cites Chicago figures that show that the GPA gap between males and females is as large as the GPA gap between the city’s richest and poorest neighborhoods.

Also, college enrollment and graduation rates are lower for men. The problem appears to have become large enough that private HEIs have quietly adopted affirmative admission procedures to loosen standards for male applicants.

Reeves argues that these gender gaps are primarily the result of biological differences that clash with an educational system whose design favors the developmental profile of girls. It was only after more professional opportunities were opened up for women that this unintentional bias became necessary. The minds of men and women, in general, end up in the same place, but girls and young women get there sooner, meanwhile, the chemicals in boys’ brains are doing their best to finish the business.

To address these educational disparities, Reeves makes a number of noteworthy proposals, including increasing the number of male teachers. But his main idea is the most extreme: that boys stick to the “red shirt” at the beginning of school, so they start one year later than girls by default. (Actually, it’s more extreme than that: It favors general pre-kindergarten education and gives boys an extra year of it while girls enter Kindergarten. This would leave boys with an extra year of schooling by the time they graduate high school.) This reform would, of course, be a major departure from historical education policy, but Reeves’ discussion of gender disparities makes me hope that some school districts—or, more likely, private schools—will try. In contrast, Reeves objects to single-sex classrooms and schools because the evidence in their favor seems weak—a weak rejection, given that he acknowledges that we don’t know whether or not it’s a delay in kindergarten.

Men lag behind at work

In addition to, and possibly related to, these large educational differences, women have gained economic status over men. For example, the wage gap between men and women has been closed significantly. (In Reeves’ analysis of the remaining gap, he notes the occupational preferences and unfriendly work requirements of caregivers, and provides a clear summary of the evidence as you’ve seen.)

Like many observers, Reeves paints a picture of the economy of failing men. For example, their participation in the labor force has fallen sharply. However, Reeves’ claim that the decline was due to a “double whammy of automation and free trade” is undermined by his subsequent renunciation of the lack of academic consensus on these points. Reeves also wrote that “men’s real average hourly wage peaked sometime in the 1970s and has been declining since then.” But analysts range from liberals Institute for Economic Policy Good Ifound that after a long period of decline, men’s wages have rebounded back to record levels over the past 30 years.

The fact that wages have gone up (or at least not gone down) raises the question of whether, over time, men are doing worse in absolute terms (and not just for women). For example, as of 2019, high school and college graduation rates for men aged 25-29 were higher More than ever. The women have advanced quite a bit after starting at the back.

Obviously, men are less likely to work than in the past, but this trend occurred during the boom years of the mid-twentieth century, the following decades when men’s wages were falling, and during the past thirty years of rising male wages. That’s almost Three-quarters Of the long-term declines involving men who told government surveyors they didn’t want a job suggests that at least some of that trend shouldn’t worry us. It is possible that affluence—including the expanded job opportunities it offered married women—gave men more freedom to shrink. Meanwhile, many men have replaced work in jobs traditionally held by men by relying on disability benefits.

Reeves recommends a coordinated public-private push to recruit more men into what he calls “health” professions — jobs in health, education, administration and literacy that are often coded as feminine. He reflects on the successful philanthropic and government efforts that have gone into getting more women into “STEM” positions. Success in increasing the number of men in health jobs would not only help male workers, but would also likely benefit boys in school (who may learn better from male teachers), men in therapy, and other male consumers of female-dominated services.

Men have fallen behind. . . life

Regardless of absolute gains or losses, Reeves is right that the relative balance of power between men and women has shifted. He argues that the result left men without purpose or well-defined roles as fathers. Having served as a one-dimensional provider for thousands of years, men are now ontologically adrift, without purpose or identity.

I think his analysis here is one of the most important in the book. Even 50 years ago, before women could expect a fulfilling career, they had little incentive to pursue educational success. But the patriarchy gave men incentives to follow a scenario – do decently in school and get a stable job so they can raise a family. Now, with so many women taking on the role of the primary caregiver and the role of the important caregiver, the incentives may be reversed. Today, girls and young women have an occupational script to structure their choices, while boys and men may be reluctant to adhere to the old script that assumed they would have the responsibilities of the primary breadwinner.

In my opinion, this problem is grossly underestimated and unpredicted. But I think it’s not primarily about men being left behind in educational or economic terms in absolute terms or in terms of women. on a large number of IndicationsAmericans have experienced a drain on the strength of their relationships and associations. It’s unclear why this should have hurt men more than women, but Reeves’ discussion of the fragility of male identity provides a great place for future scholars to start.

While he identifies a number of ways in which men appear lost—their identities are less diverse than those of women, have fewer friends, and experience deaths of despair at much higher rates—Reeves places particular emphasis on rebuilding their roles. parents. Conservatives and liberals alike can agree on the importance of fathers, but most conservatives will find the direction Reeves takes in this regard intriguing.

Reeves discusses research showing that shared parenting improves child outcomes. However, it devotes remarkably little attention to research that has found that families with two parents reinforce these findings as well. Modern sub-version Mail From Reeves conveys the situation well of boys and men Takes towards the demise of the two-parent family. Noting that women are increasingly fending off (mostly because they are single), he wrote:

About 40% of births in the United States now take place outside marriage, up from 11% in 1970. (A particularly striking trend is the decline in “shotgun” marriage). From a feminist perspective, and just to be clear what my point is, these are fantastic developments. But we also have to ask: What do they mean by men?

The book’s biggest flaw, in my view, is its neglect of the question of what marital trends mean children and its development. What if the bulk of the story of girls’ superiority over boys in school, for example, revolved around the disproportionate impact on boys due to the increasing absence of a father? This hypothesis has not been explored in of boys and men. Given the attention that Reeves devotes to the problems of the poor, boys, and black men in particular, this omission stands out, because single parenthood is more common in those societies.

The most intuitive way to ensure the interaction of parents with children is to strengthen the marriage. However, Reeves takes for granted that we as a society cannot alter the decline of marriage as an institution. I have a doubt that we can revive the institution of paternity without doing this.

The policies that Reeves is proposing — paid paternity leave, child support reforms, more family-friendly workplaces and career ladders — seem insufficient to me to support men’s social roles and identities, as fathers or in general. However, the real value of Reeves’ book lies elsewhere. Sixty years after publication feminine mysteryAnd the of boys and men It should likewise inspire conversations about a “problem that has no name” much like Betty Friedan in its indescribability and importance.

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