As colleges nationwide review freshman applications over the next several weeks, many will face lopsided numbers of male and female candidates. Some colleges maintain a gender balance, but national data in recent years show a 57%-43% split favoring women, both in enrollments and graduation rates. Richard Whitmire, author of Why Boys Fail and a former USA TODAY editorial writer, talks to reporter Mary Beth Marklein about how we got there, why we should care, and what should be done about it.
Q: Why do boys fail, and how do we turn that around?
A: The reforms launched by the nation’s governors more than 20 years ago to get more students college-ready had an unintended consequence: Most girls adjusted nicely to the intensified verbal skills demanded in the early grades; most boys didn’t. We have to figure out a way to keep boys on track with reading and writing skills. Boys are failing because the world has gotten more verbal and they haven’t.