ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Something Else for Margaret Spellings

September 23, 2005 by ACTA

As long as Margaret Spellings has resolved to study American higher education in order to get a sense of where the problems are and how the system might be improved, she would do well to consider an increasingly pressing question: Where are all the men?

USA Today notes that these days, 135 women are graduating from college for every 100 men. The U.S. Department of Education projects that the gap will grow in coming years. Some sobering facts: The unemployment rate for men between the ages of 20 and 24 is 10.1%, or twice the national average. There are almost as many men in jail, on probation, and on parole (5,000,000) as there are men in college (7,300,000). Men with college educations earn an average of $47,000 per year; those whose education ended at the high school diploma earn an average of $30,000. What's happening to young men's prospects in this country is devastating. It's also not surprising, given the manner in which K-12 education has been reshaped to favor girls and disadvantage boys--something Christina Hoff Sommers documents in damning detail in The War Against Boys.

A generation of young men is losing out in a very big way. But there is no real outrage as higher education becomes a feminized system. Indeed, the outrage is still running the other way--we hear continually about the marginalization of women in the academy, and the difficulties women students face. The question of why there are so few women in the hard sciences draws impassioned debate, urgent calls for equity, and lots and lots of money. But the question of why young men are disappearing from campus is not even being widely asked. And it certainly isn't being studied systematically. It should be, and Margaret Spellings has the power to ensure that it is.

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