Is Separate Equal?

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I recently watched a program on Nickelodeon’s Nick.com’s Nick News Weekly. The story, “Boys and Girls in a Class of Their Own”, with Linda Ellerbee was the weekly feature on girls and boys attending separate classes or separate schools. It was very interesting to listen to the different views on this issue from the teachers, girls and boys.

It has been hard for school districts to provide single-sex education because of a 34 year-old law called Title IX. This law forbids discrimination against girls in school and on the athletic field, which has been interpreted to also forbid separating girls from boys in education. This law was passed as a result of research which found girls were not being treated as fairly as boys in the classroom and in school sports. According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE), despite Title IX, there is a trend for girls-only and boys-only education in public schools. In the past, school boards could only set up single-sex classrooms and schools if they did it for both girls and boys. Today, a girls-only school can be set up on its own without creating a boys-only school and vice versa.

There are already public schools which are either single-sex schools or are experimenting with single-sex classes. Although these types of classes are rare in public schools, in private schools it has been common for a long time. As of January 2009, according to the NASSPE, there were about 518 public schools offering single-sex educational opportunities in the U.S. For a list of these schools you can visit the NASSPE’s website at www.singlesexschools.org. According to the U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, The Department of Education is committed to giving communities more choices in how they go about offering varied learning environments to their students. Teachers and school officials who are experimenting with these types of schools and classes have more research to do and standardized test scores to wait for to see if there is a difference.

A few views on this Issue are:  Better environment for motivated students; Genders are not divided in the real world; Girls and boys learn differently; Girls don’t miss the unwanted attention from boys; Improved grades; Less distractions; Less embarrassment; Low-income and minority students may do better; More openness; No competition; Some girls miss the competition and Some students learn better. 

As for me, I wouldn’t mind the separate schools. Having a teenager in middle school and observing how the girls and boys are hugged up, kissing, cursing or fighting over relationships is terrible. I feel they concentrate too much on their relationships rather than their academics, I believe it’s worth a try.  What are your views on single-sex educational opportunities?

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