The Washington Post’s misleading report on a misleading report

The Washington Post reports, in a front-page story, that a new study on gender equity in education concludes that the “boys crisis” in U.S. schools is a myth. The study was performed by the American Association of University of Women, a women’s advocacy group.

If you read all the way to the end of Valerie Strauss’ Post article, however, you will find that (1) women have earned 57 percent of bachelor degrees in the U.S. over the past two decades and (2) in 2005, the average female high school student had a significantly higher grade point average (3.09) than her male counterpart (2.86).

For most parents, nothing about their childrens’ educational profile matters more than how well they do in high school and whether they graduate from college. Thus, the study actually confirms that there is a significant educational gap between boys and girls in U.S. schools.

The feminists who conducted the study attempt (with the assistance today of the Post) to spin these results by proclaiming that there is no “crisis.” How one characterizes the gap in male educational performance, and whether it even represents a legitimate concern, is a subjective judgment and not, therefore, a proper task for an objective study. The study has confirmed the existence of a statistically significant gap. The rest of us can decide how serious the problem is.

Ultimately, the feminists resort to arguing that the real “crisis” is with minority students and low-income students. The Post takes the bait in the headline of its report, declaring “Academic Success Linked to Income.” But the study held racial, ethnic, and economic factors constant and still found that boys under-performed in key respects. So whatever is true of minority and low-income students, academic success is also linked to gender, with girls performing significantly better than boys.

One expects that feminist advocacy groups will subordinate their “scientific” analysis to their political agenda. Unfortunately, one also now expects that the Post will follow suit in its reporting.


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