Community Learning Center Blog

What are little boys made of?

CLC StudentsWritten by:  Sharon Hillestad, Director of Tutoring

What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails. That’s what little boys are made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.

This charming little ditty introduces an alarming report:  Why Are We Losing Our Boys? It appears that boys are having significantly less success in school than girls. Girls usually can handle little or no physical activity, early literacy instruction, and zero tolerance (discipline) policies better than boys.

The report is copyrighted by the Pinellas Education Foundation which was founded in 1986 and has raised more than $110 million dollars to support the students and teachers of Pinellas County Schools.

Boys are suffering, be they rich, poor, white, black, Asian, or Hispanic.

The sons of college-educated parents suffer. Almost 25% of high school graduate sons of white, college educated parents have “below basic” reading levels compared to 7% of the girls. This means that almost one in four boys who have college educated parents cannot read a newspaper with understanding and will not make it in college. 

A report released in October of 2013 by the State of Florida confirms that in our state there were 3,350 girls diagnosed with emotional and behavioral disorders and 15,018 boys diagnosed with emotional and behavioral disorders. That is a ratio of 509 boys to every 100 girls.

Statistics tell the story:

  • For every 100 girls suspended from public elementary and secondary schools, 215 boys are suspended. For every 100 girls expelled from public schools, 297 boys are expelled.
  • For every 100 females ages 15-19 that commit suicide, 549 males in the same range kill themselves.
  • For every 100 girls ages 15 to 17 in correctional facilities, there are 837 boys behind bars. For every 100 women ages 18 to 21 in correctional facilities, there are 1,430 men behind bars.
  • For every 100 American women who earn a bachelor’s degree from college, 75 American men earn a bachelor’s degree. For every 100 American women who earn a master’s degree from college, 66 men earn the same degree.

Research done decades ago and reported in a document published by Columbia University, N.Y. states the following: “a study done of education in 13 countries found essentially that the earlier children went to school the more negative their attitudes toward schooling.” Starting boys on a course of formal education at too young an age does not enhance their skills. It actually reduces their ultimate ability to learn and, because of their early failures, can turn them off to education.

Additional research reported by Columbia University in 1982 includes the (IML) Integration of Maturity Levels report which suggests “until the child has reached a chronological age of at least eight to ten, parents and educators should question the desirability of formal schooling.”

Such research has been ignored. Since we have not successfully taught children to read in school, the solution appears to be “early childhood education”–a solution to the literacy crisis applied to all children–ready or not. A solution that could lead to more failures–particularly for boys.

The author’s plea to the public:  “It is time for us to hear from you. We urge you to speak out and join us in this most important effort, not only for our boys, but also for all of our children.”

The entire document can be downloaded from:

Kristen HarperWhat are little boys made of?