Jan 26, 2006

"Men naturally rebel" [LINK]

First of two today:

While there's been much welcome attention paid to the lagging educational performance of boys, Doug Anglin and his litigious father should be ashamed for their frivolous anti-discrimination suit against Milton High School.

Their basic premise is incoherent: that we must simultaneously treat boys and girls the same while taking special consideration of boys' differences. Thus, the plaintiffs complain that more hall passes are required of boys. They also say rules favoring compliance with authority are "designed to the disadvantage of males," because boys "naturally rebel." Could this naturally rebellious behavior have something to do with boys' special need for supervision in school hallways? Just a thought.

As a way to bolster male achievement (at least on paper), the Anglins' recommend that we give out academic credit for playing sports and grade students on a pass/fail basis, measures that are unlikely to improve the education of any student. As far as I can tell, their only legitimate complaint concerns one teacher who gives extra points to students who decorate their writing assignments, a practice that is certainly suspect and academically insubstantial, but hardly worth clogging the courts.

Welcome to the crazy world of adulthood, Doug. It appears you're learning just fine!


CareerSoldier said...

I'd like to exercise my right to disagree with the poster, Mike Sierra, whose views seem similar to those of someone who has arrived at the last minute and immediately formulated an opinion. I and many other quite knowledgeable men around the country, who have been struggling with this problem for the past fifteen years, do not consider the suit frivolous at all. On the contrary, we believe it has come about a dozen years later than it should have.

Those in my group, in fact, are currently trying to determine an address to which we may contribute to this boy's suit.

We would also like to ask his attorney if there is a way to broaden the suit to include every public school in the country. Our main regret at the moment is that his suit does not seek damages for the million or more American boys who have been purposefully shortchanged and kept from college over the past two decades. And we would like to suggest that the attorney establish a web site for the boy's cause.

Most of us have been screaming about this problem all over the country for a very long time, but this is the first time an American boy has been brave enough to take the problem on legally, and the first time certain national level "news" media have been willing to give the general subject some attention, however cautious and protective of its self-interests.

What Doug Anglin's attorney has been trying to do is avoid mentioning those issues most likely to imflame the enormously powerful opposition lobby by citing only what appear to be rather minor "infractions" and superficial "solutions". What Mike Sierra fails to appreciate in implying incredulity to the assumption that "we must simultaneously treat boys and girls the same while taking special consideration of boys' differences, etc." is that teaching methods WERE altered dramatically a quarter of a century ago in response to the women's lobby demands. They successfully made the same demands that Sierra now considers incredible - only in favor of girls. Those demands were also fraudently based -- on the claim that girls were being unfairly disadvantaged by classroom methods which played to boys' natural individual competitiveness.

It has been firmly established since the early 1960s that boys' and girls' brains develop differently, that they learn in quite different manners, and that they react to others of their own gender and to those of the opposite gender in very different ways. But the result of the early 1980s women's lobby demands throughout our entire school system was to play only to girls. Thereafter boys were required to adapt or die. The majority died, never realizing their full potential. Our schools ever since have been, in effect, consciously or not, trying to reshape boys in the image of women. They have now come to the absurd extreme of even viewing boys as "crippled girls". It seems to us that, if you can change your methods to favor girls, then you can just as easily change them to favor both genders.

The dynamics of major social change always get lost on those who fail to know history and view things only as a snapshot of the here and now, and isolated only at a tiny point. One needs to step back and view the whole.

A LOT of history has gone before this suit. I just hope that enough men, even if they are now aging, still understand what has been happening and are still brave enough to stand up for what is right. Public schools have no financial incentive to focus on failing boys, and there never has been any interest group at all which represents boys (or men). The "system' has operated against them for the past forty years; it's truly remarkable that they only began to fall behind about fifteen years ago. Today almost all school advanced placement programs (college prep) have girl-boy ratios of well over 4 to 1, many over 10 to 1, and there are already twice as many women in college as men - a ratio that has risen every year since the early 1990s. Such great numerical superiorities are now moving heavily into our post-graduate schools. These gender ratios, which are now deeply buried behind racial and economic data (where the financial incentives are), represent really huge numbers of Americans. Since such gross gender disparities portend truly enormous upheavals throughout our society, it would be criminally negligent to continue to ignore them -- or, as men have well learned to do, laugh them off.

Very powerful women's lobbies, teachers' unions, and our entire "education" industry, will ensure that the road ahead for Doug Anglin will be enormously painful. It is important for him to know that there are still real men out there, most with our own daughters and grand daughters, who stand solidly behind him. We also understand full well that the greatest threat to our nation's future does not come from any external enemy; it comes from our ever-worsening, and ever more sexist, school system.

I'd like to respectfully suggest that Mr. Sierra do a little more homework on this topic.

Robert , US Regular Army (ret)

P.S. No, none of us are "activists", "radicals", or in any way "anti-women". We DO find it shameful that mothers of these boys did not take up their sons' cause long ago.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

I sympathize with the idea that boys have been neglected (for which you can do no better than read Christina Hoff Sommers), but as a former boy myself I strongly reject the notion that boys are incapable of disciplined learning. So that's where I get off the boat. Why should boys go from being overdiagnosed with attention-deficit disorder to being saddled with yet another spurious educational disability?

While I sympathize with these problems, they are well outside the scope of the lawsuit, which unfortunately remains an incoherent mess. The use of the courts for airing such vague and open-ended grievances in what is clearly a publicity ploy is questionable to begin with. Perhaps you should consider fielding candidates for the school board.

BTW: You refer to your group of men who plan to contribute to the plaintiff's effort. What group is that, exactly? Do you have a name? If you've been struggling with this issue for fifteen years now, it would certainly come in handy when presenting your case in the public arena. Letterhead is also a good idea, come to think of it.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

From a legal point of view, what you're describing indeed represents a "vague and open-ended grievance" that is inappropriate for judicial action. It's not enough to bellyache about the need for remedies like all-boy's schools and academic credit for sports, but to answer how this particular school did demonstrable harm to this particular boy given the current understanding of what constitutes an education. There's a reason the term "judicial activism" is pejorative. After all, women never received any reparations for being herded (like my wife) into "home economics" courses. Given your logic, why shouldn't they also bring massive lawsuits to remedy the far more significant discrimination they suffered?

Realize there's a lot of sympathy for your point of view that you should take care not to squander -- e.g., this morning's Boston Globe column by Cathy Young, who BTW agrees with me on the lawsuit's folly. You appear unaware that most women these days consider feminism alternately exhausting and unnecessary. But come along and make paranoid statements like this -- "There once were also good male scientists raising similar alarms, but almost all of them were eventually steamrolled by the women's lobby groups" -- and you mark yourself as having an agenda other than the well-being of all students, and you do your cause no good.

So, my advice: realize mothers care deeply about their sons, and start pitching the issue to morning show producers without coming off as an anti-feminist reactionary.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

This is a test to see if Blogger's comment routine is utterly hosed...

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

That having been established, here's the Feb. 3 comment by CareerSoldier that Blogger croaked:

To: LetMeSpellItOutForYou

Re: Doug Anglin civil rights complaint

We are indeed familiar with Dr. Sommers' work on this subject over the past decade. (There once were also good male scientists raising similar alarms, but almost all of them were eventually steamrolled by the women's lobby groups.) The problem, as we see it, is an inability of the school system to see fault with the methods it applies toward the teaching of boys. It is not nearly not so simple as the "application of discipline". We point to diametrically opposite results achieved with boys in private all-boys schools, regardless of race or socio-economic status.

Perhaps I should have mentioned that I was educated in psychology and sociology (child development) during the 1960s, and was then diverted to other directions for the next three decades by an Army that had use of me overseas in a different capacity. I returned home to what seemed like a foreign society and have been playing catch-up ever since. My friends on this topic - all average middle class guys spread around the country - are not organized in any way except through a common interest as responsible adult men in the future welfare of both our boys and our nation. Most of us are now retired professional career soldiers and/or intelligence officers (so we understand about the discipline thing, both its benefits and its definite limits). Any contributions from us would be individual, voluntary and as able.

After so many frustrating years of watching this problem grow and grow, while schools, teachers and women, along with their many lobby groups, remain silent, we are convinced that the only thing that will ever change anything is if staggering damages are awarded for a successful class action law suit on behalf of all boys shortchanged over the past two decades by our public school districts across the country. We do not see the matter as a "vague and open-ended grievance", but it is obvious that boys have never had a lobby group of any kind to help keep an even keel on these matters.

Therefore, since the key in our society always seems to be quotas (by other labels), we would suggest simply subtracting the number of boys who were admitted to college from the number of girls so admitted, add in the scholarship gender differences, and see what kind of figure sounds appropriate for two decades of institutionalized gender discrimination. These numbers are now in the many hundreds of thousands. Those damages would then go to fund appropriate new programs, preferably apart from our existing public schools, to help all boys in the future catch up as fast as possible with the girls.

Since none of us is a practicing attorney, we cannot comment on how this might be possible, either with this or any other case. We are hoping to generate some interest in the topic among responsible men who do possess such expertise. We DO know that the longer we as a society wait for some really major action to come along, for someone else to fix the problem, nothing will
change, and the worse off we will be as a nation. We are now sinking faster than any of us wants to admit and need to seize any opportunit that presents itself.

We do NOT consider this a political preference type issue. However, some of us were also considering how to make the subject a campaign issue if any of the candidates for President in 2008 turns out to be a woman -- as a corresponding responsibility that goes along with every right.

Robert , US Regular Army (ret)

Anonymous said...

Ignorance and lack of research has lead to many misconceptions surrounding Doug Anglin's civil rights complaint claiming gender and racial discrimination. In fact, even individuals that did their research still misunderstand that Anglin believes that his proposed remedies (whether you agree with, or not) will provide an education environment that would help all genders and races.

I tuned into one of Anglin's local radio appearances and he discussed a 20th Anniversary Title XI study stating that women were sacrificing independence for good grades and males were preserving their independence, but grades were suffering. According to Anglin, his proposed remedies would give a learning environment where womens independence would be valued as well as mens. I'm sure if you asked many female students if they would support less requirements,receive credit for sports, take a hard class under pass/fail grading without slaughtering their GPA, many would welcome such options.

I do not look at the suit as education reform for men, but education reform for all.

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