Regression at its Finest
Single-sex classrooms and/or schools rarely facilitate greater academic achievement. Gender segregation in public schools is so rare that the research available is extremely limited and usually proves to be inconclusive or biased. Incorporating such a system into our public schools is unconstitutional, and one could understand why single-sex education is an attempt to make up for the lack of hardworking teachers, the poor student to teacher ratios, or the outdated methods used to educate my generation. Separating pupils according to their sex, as opposed to their age, reinforces gender stereotypes, and broadens the gap between boys and girls. However, that's not to say it isn't effective in private, independent institutions, where religion, race, and the student's financial situation will all play a significant role in gaining acceptance to his or her/s school of choice.
While some single-sex schooling activists, such as Dr. Leonard Sax, claim to have documented research illustrating the advantages of segregated classrooms, the evidence provided is hardly conclusive. Dr. Sax, who happens to be the founder and executive director of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education (NASSPE), refers to one particular study that Stetson University Researchers carried out to validate his pro-segregation reasoning. The study took place at a public school in Deland, Florida, and its subjects were 4th grade boys and girls. Cheryl Downs, Stetson's Director of Media and Pubic Communications, wrote an interesting piece on the school's pilot study. She suggests that after four years of research "...the experiment continues to yield strong evidence that single-gender education, for many children, leads to higher achievement" (Downs Par.2). `While the results obviously favored Mr. Sax and Mrs. Downs' opinions, they lacked depth, substance and proved to be relatively thin. Both Dr. Sax and Mrs. Downs portray to the following result as definitive. According to the results posted on the NASSPE's website, boys in a single-sex education environment improved their FCAT (Florida's standardized test) scores by nearly fifty percent. Girls in the same situation improved by roughly fifteen percent (NASSPE. Par.1). This is a single study and its results are an approximation; I found no graphs, charts or any other form of concrete evidence. It's a bit optimistic, or rather a bit bias to assume that because one above-average public school allegedly excelled under these circumstances, that all public schools will have such luck. In an article published by Education Digest, written by Gerald W. Bracey, author of five educational books and an independent researcher, Bracey suggests that Dr. Leonard "... often grossly distorts the data to make a point"(24). The truth is there just isn't enough reliable research available to prove that separating the boys from the girls will facilitate greater academic achievement.
Lack of evidence is a huge disadvantage to Dr. Sax's party, but is hardly the only reason to avoid single-sex schooling. Segregating students by race, gender, or religion used to be illegal, not to mention immoral. Johanna Grossman, a professor of law and the Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Hofstra University, says "Single-sex educational programs must also comply with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Title IX is a federal statute prohibiting sex discrimination in schools receiving any form of federal funding." (Par.10). How are single-sex schools not covered under sexual discrimination? One would look at the situation and assume that these programs are in direct violation of Title IX, but the Bush Administration amended the federal statute in November of 2006. The amendment allowed local school leaders to initiate single-sex classrooms if they deem it necessary. An article on MSNBC's website written by the Associated Press in October of 2006 claims, "The Bush administration is giving pubic schools wider latitude to teach boys and girls separately in what is considered the biggest change to coed classrooms in more than three decades" (Par.1). It's rather unfortunate; separating students only promotes sexism. It gives children, teenagers and even adults the idea that it's okay to segregate the human race. If that was the case, and gender apartheid was acceptable, then why have women worked so diligently to gain equal rights all these years? Is it fair that little Jane has more opportunities than Jack? What if Jack wants to work in event planning, or perhaps be an interior decorator, or a nurse? Who will guarantee that the all-boys schools offer the same courses that are traditionally taken up by girls to their male students? Coeducation gives Jack the same opportunities as Jill, and visa versa. After all, we don't live in a segregated state. Ellen Goodman, a syndicated columnist with the Boston Globe, wrote a passage in the book Opposing Viewpoints: Education. In the passage, Goodman writes: "We live in a coed world, we work in it. A generation of coed schools and dorms and workplaces has produced more equality between men and women, not less." (103). The workforce is coed, and students entering the workforce should be prepared to deal with real life situations. Single-sex schools are a social regression and attempt to shelter young scholars from the real world.
The lack of gender-equal academic evidence, the faulty claims of success, and the promotion of sexual segregation is enough to make most turn away from single-sex institutions. However, if single-sex schooling won't solve the problems public schools deal with on a daily basis, what will? Spending more federal tax dollars certainly isn't the answer. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "The nation's public school districts spent an average of $8,701 per student on elementary and secondary education in fiscal year 2005, up 5 percent from $8,287 the previous year..." (Par.1). If spending more money isn't the answer, what is? Ronald F. Bernard, the dean of Linda Christas Academy in Sacramento, suggests "Much of the disengagement seen in American public schools can be attributed, I [Bernard] believe, to the incompatibility of the social messages children receive at home and through the media emphasizing their very real importance as individuals, with the inexhaustible emphasis on collective values delivered in the public schools." (Bernard. Par. 2). I agree with Ronald, but I also blame the government for monopolizing the public education system. On top of the monopoly, it's safe to say that kids have evolved over the last ten or fifteen years. I don't think it would hurt to reevaluate the way educators instruct their students, especially in the Math and Science courses.
While single-sex education is certainly out of the question for the public school system, the idea is not entirely out of the question for private institutions. Children in the public school system do not deserve to have their rights violated, their education jeopardized or their morals challenged in a single-sex education experiment. Students attending private institutions usually pay out-of-pocket to attend such a school. Therefore, they have the right to organize, prepare, and execute an attempt at single-sex education. It's important that the organizers and executives of the program are sure to create a level playing field on both sides of the spectrum, and that the program be entirely volunteer. There are many determining factors in the outcome of the single-sex system in private schools. Providing it's a voluntary experiment and everyone is on board; the school will succeed depending on the student's acceptance of the program. I believe each situation will be unique, and that neither coeducation nor single-sex education will act as a silver bullet in solving the problems that educators face year in and year out.
America is a country built on equality. The country as a whole has made incredible progress in treating and perceiving each citizen as equal. To take that away, and regress to the 1950's in the name of single-sex education is outrageous. Gender equality has been a theme in America and across the globe, in most regions, for many years. Students are the educators of tomorrow, and teaching them to promote single-sex schooling will only result in disaster. As of now, coeducation is the status quo, and while it may not be flawless, it does work. It does promote equality and it's produced countless male and female executives, doctors, and lawyers. It's safe to say that coeducation could use updating, but it's incredibly efficient. Like Peter Meyer said in his 2008 article in Education Next, "...there are no reliable counts of single-gender schools in the first half of the 20th century..." (Meyer. 15) There is just not enough hard evidence to make the enormous switch from coeducation to single-sex education.
Revised once, looking for any more suggestions. I literally corrected, removed or added everything he suggested. I hope can at least get a B+ this time around. Most of my work was on the Works Cited page. My formatting was supposed to be MLA, and I followed my handbook to make sure I was doing it correctly. He said I was following a "bad example" from the book, so I finally did it correctly.
I added 1 source from a particular database he suggested too.