Boys Falling Behind Girls In School

Boys vs. girls.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, fewer boys than girls are enrolling in and graduating from college, and fewer men are getting master's and doctoral degrees.

The national trend is happening here in East Texas.

It's a problem First Lady Laura Bush says she will tackle during the next four years.

It used to be that girls did better in elementary and middle school, and boys stepped it up in high school and ultimately got ahead in college. But if you ask today's college student, girls are staying ahead.

"I think girls are taking a bigger step into education, into learning, to try to get ahead of guys," Corinna Greb, who has a zoology degree and is now attending UT-Tyler for her teaching certificate, said.

"Men are just a little more slackers, I guess," Roman Martin, a mechanical engineering undergraduate at UT-Tyler, said.

Slackers in class maybe, but not on the field. That's if you talk to 35-year, veteran middle and high school counselor, Gladys Cooper, of Hogg Middle School. She'll say boys are often distracted by dreams of playing professional sports.

"I do think that sometimes boys get so interested in extracurricular activities, that they may not place quite as much emphasis on academics," she said.

Cooper also sees more boys sent to the office for discipline problems, which experts back up. They say the classroom environment doesn't account for boys' need for physical activity.

Researchers say, in the last 30 years, more boys than girls have dropped out of school. It could be because more boys are diagnosed early on with learning disabilities like ADD. But there may be other reasons fewer boys are making it to college.

"Men are more likely to go to work, to want to work, and kind of delay education," Dale Lunsford, Ph.D, VP for Student Affairs at UT-Tyler, said.

He says men are more likely not to return after their freshman year because most of them either joined the military or found a job.

"What we need to remind them is that college graduates make $1 million more in their lifetime than high school graduates do," he said.

"The guys definitely need to step up," Brant Guthrie, a business undergraduate at UT-Tyler, said.

And let the gender wars continue.

In 2000, the Department of Education concluded that boys scored higher in math and science, while girls did better in reading and writing. But now, university and grade school teachers are finding that more girls are outscoring boys in math and science as well.

Julie Tam, reporting.