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Bloomberg Commission Looks to All-Boys Schools to Close Gender Gap

By DNAinfo Staff on June 25, 2010 8:58am

Sixth graders at Eagle Academy boys' school in Brooklyn watched President Barack Obama inaugural address.
Sixth graders at Eagle Academy boys' school in Brooklyn watched President Barack Obama inaugural address.
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Julie Jacobson/AP

By Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — A group of educators say they have the solution to New York City's gender achievement gap, which shows male students lagging behind their female counterparts: get rid of the girls.

"We think we have cracked the code to get young men to believe in themselves and to take responsibility for their education and their future," David Banks, founder of the Eagle Academy charter schools, all-boys institutions in the Bronx and Brooklyn, told the Wall Street Journal.

Banks, also co-chairman of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's commission to address the outcome disparity between boys and girls, said the group would begin testing their ideas throughout the city come July, according to the paper.

The graduation rate for boys within the New York City school system was only 52.6 percent last year, compared to 65.5 percent for girls, the Journal noted.

Girls also outnumber boys in the city's gifted programs, with female kindergartners making up 56 percent of gifted students, though they account for only 49 percent of students overall.

Steve Nelson head of the Upper West Side's Calhoun School said these numbers are partly due to a failure in the way that schools are currently structured, according to the Journal.

"There's a great deal of evidence in the child-development and learning world that boys are increasingly poorly served in our schools," Nelson explained to the paper. "A high level of physical energy and impulsivity tends to be devalued or even punished in schools."

Banks' Eagle Academy schools have attempted to combat these problems by gearing the curriculum towards an all male student body and achieved some success – graduating 83 percent of students, compared to a 30 percent graduation rate among African American males throughout the city, the Journal noted.

A third Eagle Academy is set to open in Queens next fall, the paper said.