Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More Girls Than Boys in CPS Prep Schools

An interesting piece in the Sun-Times: In city's prep schools, girls rule

Girls are soundly beating boys this year when it comes to winning admission to Chicago's prized college prep high schools. The disparity between accepted girls and boys is so high -- almost 70 percent girls to 30 percent boys at one school -- some say it's time to consider giving boys a break at the city's eight selective-enrollment high schools.

I'm personally not terribly surprised, and I think one educator quoted puts her finger on the reason for the disparity:
Developmentally, girls are 18 months ahead of boys, [Judy Kleinfeld, director of the Boys Project] said. On top of that, they walk into classrooms -- often headed by female teachers -- that play to their strengths.

"The big issue is writing, both neat work and verbal skills," Kleinfeld said. "No matter what the subject, if the test requires writing, girls are at an advantage. More and more schools require students to write about their answers, even in mathematics."

Meanwhile, many boys' strengths -- such as "innovative, out-of-the-box thinking where you don't follow the rules" -- are ignored, Kleinfeld said.

Back in the 1950s, Kleinfeld said, "girls would hide their intelligence because it wasn't feminine." But today, girls may be overtaking boys because "what's changed is that girls are giving it their all. . . . They are trying their hardest. . . .

"For girls, especially in the 21st century, all the messages they get say, 'Go, girl, go.' "

A couple of points jumped out. First, it appears most of the solutions offered involved setting spots aside for boys, and for all the gitchy-goo reasons normally cited. From Jones HS Principal Donald Fraynd :"For a citywide school, we ought to as much as possible reflect the city we serve."

Or, for a citywide school, they ought to educate students at the level they can handle, and thus accept only those who can meet certain requirements. It might be nice to live in a city that rewards merit; currently, Chicago is not such a city.

Second, a quote from one girl accepted by a prep school stood out:

"I'm actually a little blown away," [Pasteur Elementary eighth-grader Erin Hederman] said of the girl-dominant statistics. "Usually you hear boys are more superior to girls, but I think now we're proving that girls shouldn't be looked down on because they're girls.

I suspect she has never once heard someone actually say that boys are superior to girls, but that she has heard over and over again what a sexist country this is. In other words, I suspect she's been utterly propagandized by her teachers. I suppose sophistication enough to see through politically correct rhetoric is a lot to ask of an eighth-grade girl, but really, have her teachers not taught her to use her own eyes? Has she not noticed all the academically gifted girls sitting next to her at her own school? The gender gap doesn't start when they take the admissions test.

Finally, as usual in the Chicago media, the article ends with a playful wink at the corruption in this city. From Julie Woestehoff of Chicago's Parents United for Responsible Education:

"Gender weighting would only increase the likelihood that the kids who will get in will be the kids that somebody [with clout] sent.

"After all, this is Chicago."

Yes, it is so amusing that we are so corrupt.

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