By Rivers and Barnett
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett applaud a Boston school administrator's decision to back off single-sex education. Too many of these schools, they argue, are based on spurious ideas about boy-girl brain differences that reinforce stereotypes.
(WOMENSENEWS)--Boston school superintendent Carol Johnson has decided to back away from an earlier decision to set up single-sex academies in the city's schools.
She is taking flak in some quarters, but she should be applauded for taking time to evaluate the data before rushing headlong into a popular but flawed approach to education. (Legal issues in Massachusetts also were a factor in her decision.) More educators around the U.S. should follow her lead.
Single-sex schools are often touted as a magic bullet for what ails American public education. It's claimed that boys and girls learn very differently–because their brains are so different--and that gender- segregated classrooms are necessary.
At a time of tight budgets, it is a particularly appealing notion to close gaps in math, science and verbal achievement by simply segregating classrooms by gender versus proven but expensive methods like smaller classrooms, better teachers and high parent involvement.
The number of single-sex classrooms in public schools rose to 540 in 2009 from 11 in 2002, according to the Web site of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. Teachers, parents and school administrators are the targets of a well- financed effort to segregate public education by sex.
It's argued that great differences in male and female brains mean that children should be educated--and parented-- differently. Such claims--stemming from studies that distort the discussion in various ways-- are taught as fact in psychology textbooks, academic journals and bestselling books and repeated often by the news media.