Friday, December 01, 2006

Separate but Equal? Single-Sex Classes Make Waves

The girls at the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School in Dallas feel that they accomplish more without boys around. "Here, you don't have guys, so you pay more attention to your classes, and you Ye more focused," eighth grader Yadira Perez told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of Texas. Rangel is one of about 240 public schools offering all-boys or all-girls classes.
Single-sex schools and classrooms are becoming more popular. The US. Department of Education recently relaxed the rules surrounding Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in public education. Now it's easier for school districts to offer single-sex education.

Supporters of single-sex education say boys and girls can focus better on schoolwork when they are separated. But some people disagree, saying single-sex education is discriminatory and unrealistic.

Better Learning
Boys and girls have better results in separate classes, some educators say. "We have found that the kids get more involved if we segregate them by sex," Mike Durbin, the principal of Gaston Junior High School, told The Oregomian of Portland, Ore.

Teacher Kristi Anderson of Ronald McNair Middle School in Lake City, S.C., says she uses a competitive team-based approach to teach her boys-only math class. "It gets them excited about learning," Anderson told The Tampa Tribune. "They love the competition."

Some students, including seventh grader Gabrielle Buffington, say separating boys and girls into different classes works. She told the Detroit Free Press that she was skeptical when her school began separating classes but changed her mind after a few classes. "We have our attention on learning. Our grades have gotten better," Gabrielle said.

Inherently Unequal?
Equality advocates, such as Emily Martin of the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project, say supporters of single-sex schools use faulty research. "The regulations give the green light to schools to develop programs based on … junk-science stereotypes, with the real potential to harm boys and girls." Martin says.

Other opponents say single-sex classes don't prepare kids for real life. "The real world is an integrated place where men and women compete for jobs, time, attention, and power," wrote Jennifer Bovair-Danulevicius of Arlington, Va., to the Free Press in response to an editorial about single-sex education.

Some students don't like being separated by gender. Ed Wilson, a student at Brandon Alternative School, told The Tampa Tribune that he doesn't like the lack of interaction with girls. "It doesn't feel right. It makes me feel like it's jail or something."

Current Events

No comments: