Monday, June 12, 2006

Single-Sex Public Schools: Separate But Equal?

The number of single-sex classrooms in public schools is likely to rise in the next few years:
At least 223 public schools scattered throughout the country, from New York to California, already offer some single-sex classrooms, according to Leonard Sax, director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. He says that's up from just four in 1998.

Sax predicts thousands more public schools will join the movement once the U.S. Department of Education finalizes new Title IX regulations first proposed in March 2004.

Backers of single-sex classes point to a growing body of research that shows the genders learn in different ways. At elementary school age, they say, girls' vision and thought processes have developed to respond better to color and detail, while boys' brains are more apt at processing motion and direction.

While those difference smooth out over time, they can have a big impact, single-sex advocates say.

"If you don't understand those differences and you teach boys and girls as if they were the same, the end result is a kindergarten classroom where the boys tell you drawing is for girls and a middle school classroom where girls tell you computers are for boys," said Sax, one of the nation's leading proponents of single-sex education. "If you don't understand gender differences, you end up furthering gender stereotypes."

Not everyone agrees. A 2004 statement from the American Association of University Women says single-sex classrooms distract from real problems in schools and "would throw out the most basic legal standards prohibiting sex discrimination in education."
There's much more to read in the whole thing.

Our 14-year-old daughter, the TeenWonk, wants to attend a women-only college, either Wellesley, Smith, or Mt. Holyoke. I hope that we can help make that happen for her.

Related: Jenny D. is carrying out another Thought Experiment.
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