We talk a lot about the achievement gap between white and black students. But do we talk enough about the gender gap between girls and boys? If you think the topic deserves attention, or if you just want to learn more, head to St. Petersburg College this week for a free lecture from a national expert, journalist and author Peg Tyre. Tyre is the author of The Trouble With Boys, a new New York Times bestseller that describes why boys are foundering more in school than girls. She also wrote a Newsweek cover story on the issue in 2006. Think the gender gap is a bunch of hooey? Look at the enrollment at just about any college in Florida. At St. Petersburg College, the most recent figures we could conveniently get our hands on (from 2006-07) show 9,020 men (37 percent) to 15,538 women (63 percent). Tyre's talk begins at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday. It will be held in the Arts Auditorium on SPC's Clearwater campus, 2465 Drew St. Call (727) 791-2623 for more information.
Graduation rate gusto
It might be tempting to slam Florida for setting the bar too low when it comes to improvement goals for its anemic graduation rates. But compared to the vast majority of other states, Florida's goal of a 1 percent per-year increase looks downright muscular. The No Child Left Behind Act requires the improvement targets, but also allows each state to set its own. As a new report from Education Trust points out, most states responded by setting what amounts to no target at all. North Carolina set an improvement target of 0.1 percent, which means if it meets the minimum increase every year, it'll reach its goal of an 80 percent graduation rate in just under a century. Maryland, meanwhile, set an improvement target of 0.01 percent. At that rate, assuming minimal increases, Maryland will reach its goal of a 90 percent grad rate in the year 2463. Florida reports a 70 percent grad rate to the feds. Its goal is 85 percent. Ed Trust singles out Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi as states that have set more ambitious targets - and taken aggressive steps to meet them.