The Wall Street online Opinion Journal, in its Best of the Web posting for November 6, references a story originally posted at Bloomberg.com , headlined Fourth Grader Suspended After Refusing to Answer Exam Question. Like a tree coasting past your window, it more or less shows you which way the wind is blowing. In this case, it’s a wind that makes Christina Hoff Summers’ War Against Boys sound as plausible as a New Orleans weather forecast 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina came onshore.
First, the facts, as Bloomberg reports them:
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) — Tyler Stoken was a well-behaved fourth grader who enjoyed school, earned A’s and B’s and performed well on standardized tests.
In May 2005, he’d completed five of the six days of the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning exam, called WASL, part of the state’s No Child Left Behind test.
Then Tyler came upon this question: “While looking out the window one day at school, you notice the principal flying in the air. In several paragraphs, write a story telling what happens.”
The nine-year-old was afraid to answer the question about his principal, Olivia McCarthy. “I didn’t want to make fun of her,” he says, explaining he was taught to write the first thing that entered his mind on the state writing test.
What, pray tell, was the first thing that came into his head?
“He didn’t want them to know what he was thinking, that she was a witch on a broomstick,” says Tyler’s mother, Amanda Wolfe, sitting next to her son in the family’s ranch home three blocks from Central Park Elementary School in Aberdeen, Washington.
Because Tyler didn’t answer the question, McCarthy suspended him for five days. He recalls the principal reprimanding him by saying his test score could bring down the entire school’s performance.
“Good job, bud, you’ve ruined it for everyone in the school, the teachers and the school,” Tyler says McCarthy told him.
James Taranto’s trenchant comment: “Why in the world did he think she was a witch?”
A couple of things pop out of this story which neither Bloomberg nor the Wall Street Journal address.
First of all, note the success of the Aberdeen School District to train a fourth grade boy to avoid anything that might be perceived as derogatory about a woman, even if something else it has taught him (write the first thing that comes into your head) generates a conflict against that pro-feminist value. “Woman-good, contra-woman bad” has been well-lodged into little Tyler’s conscience.
Second, note the evidence here that Tyler fears violating this feminist value far more than what he chose to endure, viz. public reprimand, public scorn by the woman he steadfastly refused to offend, and public expulsion from school. What does he imagine would have happened if he had answered the question as they insisted?
Finally, note the anti-social behaviors Tyler’s mother reports in the wake of his unjust persecution. These are the very behaviors which the public schools are supposedly set on engineering out of the little masculine psyches in their charge. Yet, in this case they have produced the very behaviors for which they now, no doubt, will criticize.
As with the world, so also with the Church, though the Church in its worldliness typically lags a generation or so behind the world. The difference in the Church is that before the social engineering of the public schools got underway three generations ago, the Church was already heavily tilted in its “market” toward women. The largely successful push for women to enter the ranks of pastors, priests, and bishops within mainline Protestantism correlates with an even more feminine cast to the face of American Protestants over the same time. It also correlates to the 800-pound gorilla in the evangelical living room today: the detachment of those men who remain within it. The Church is fast becoming as appealing to men as the public schools are to boys.
What all this will produce in another generation or so is anyone’s guess. We’re in uncharted territory here.