Working to Rescue Our 'Lost Men'

5/31/05


By Kenneth Ender, Ph.D.

I recently participated in two very different public ceremonies, seemingly unconnected; however, upon reflection, the connection and learning from them was profound.

Cumberland County College confirmed degrees to 418 men and women last Thursday. Or, I should say, women and men. Of the 418 graduates, only 101 were men. More than 75 percent of the graduating class members were women. This is not unusual since almost two thirds of the students who attend Cumberland are women. This phenomenon is prevalent in colleges throughout New Jersey and America.

Earlier in May, Sammy (the dog) and I had the honor of presenting Elementary School Counts! certificates to many school children at R.D. Wood School in Millville. You may have seen their photos recently in this paper. The kids ranged in ages from 5 to 11, and they were great. The students had big smiles, lots of energy and enthusiasm, and a keen interest in what was going on. And there were as many boys as girls. In fact, I was struck by the parity between males and females.

Since Sammy and I visited Wood School that day, I have often wondered about the “lost men” in our educational system. I’m told by those who work with middle and secondary school children that we lose the boys mentally in the eighth grade, and many then drop out in ninth grade. I couldn’t help but think of all those little boys faces at Wood School that morning. Could it possibly be true that half of them would not make it through high school, much less college? Unacceptable!

The stakes are very high, folks. We need all of our kids. One of the goals that I personally pledge to undertake over the course of the next several years is to assure that we will increase the boys’ participation in secondary school and post-secondary education. Our way of life depends on all of our talent being developed. Join me in this work. Serve as a mentor. Be a big brother or sister. Open your doors and let our young girls and boys see the work that you do. Let them connect your work to their lives. Find ways to invest in their future.

Let’s make sure that in six years many more of the boys in our elementary schools will be students in institutions of post-secondary education. The girls and women cannot do it by themselves. Our nation needs all of our talent working together to compete and thrive in the 21st Century.