By Tim Hunt
Tackling issues about educating boysUploaded: Feb 9, 2021
Pleasanton resident Sean Kullman can demonstrate he has the facts on his side as his non-profit organization tries to climb a steep mountain focused on opportunities for boys and men. It’s the challenge of public opinion and the male advantages over the decades that provide huge challenges.
He’s compiled data that demonstrates that California and the nation are failing to educate boys, so they are prepared to perform in today’s economy. He’s the executive director of Global Initiative for Boys and Men that launched its strategic plan last year. The data emphasizes that regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic level boys are performing dramatically poorer than their female counterparts—often by double-digit percentages. For instance, comparing percentages of girls and boys who meet the University of California and state college admission standards, Black males trail females by 13.5% and Hispanic males trail by 13.1%.
Kullman taught school at the middle and high school levels on the East Coast before his family moved to Pleasanton about 10 years ago when his wife took a job here. He happily serves as Mr. Mom for their two boys while she’s the primary bread winner for the family.
He believes that the education system, particularly classrooms pre-COVID-19, are unfriendly to boys. Boys, who often need to be active, have been hurt as recess time has been limited, he told me. He also pointed out that when he looked into the Pleasanton school district suspensions, he found that a 4th grade boy was more likely to be suspended than high school girls in all four grades. He thinks the district’s zero tolerance policy is wrong-headed.
He says that all students should be college ready, but there are two million more young women in college than men and $6 billion more in Pell Grant went to women than men. The issue is urgent because many jobs in the economy, even in the traditional trades, require skills that males are not learning in today’s classrooms.
One of his first steps is to establish a report card that shows how boys are doing. To compile his chart, he had to tap into a variety of state data bases to make the situation clear. He’s done that so he wants to balance government commissions. There’s already a Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. He believes there should be an equivalent for males and has submitted a bill to a state legislator that he hopes will move forward.
He hopes that once legislators and other decision-makers see the data, presented in a straight-forward manner, will understand that we need to do education differently. Based upon his years in the classroom, he would include single-sex classes so they could be tailored to how males and females learn.
He hit a sympathetic note for me because I’m observed one of my nephews who is smart, but incapable of sitting down and shutting up in a classroom. The light bulb went on for me when my father gave him a Space Shuttle Lego kit for Christmas. We saw him 24 hours later and he was virtually done with the model—you would had had to pay me a bunch of money to suffer through that.
Kullman’s message is profound and simple—why leave about half of the population behind? The Biden administration is focusing lots of attention of LGBT issues—what about male challenges? They’re real.