Does separating boys and girls help them learn better?

Aug 9, 2012

An empty classroom. Credit: James F Clay/Flickr

One of the ongoing and growing controversies in the new academic reality in the aftermath of the No Child Left Behind reforms is the proliferation of single-sex public education. Proponents believe that separating boys and girls for certain classes in mixed gender schools allows the curricula to be catered to the way they believe each gender learns. Dr. Leonard Sax, founder of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education believes that with proper teacher training for single-sex educational environments, girls are more likely to take classes in math and science and boys are more interested in subjects like music, drama and foreign languages. But the opt-in practice has its detractors as well; including the American Civil Liberties Union, which has launched a national campaign called Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes and sent cease-and-desist letters to schools in five states that are implementing the practice. Critics say that schools that are currently implementing single-sex public education are doing so in a way that violates both the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, a federal statute that protects against sex discrimination in schools. Parents and school officials want the best for kids, but how can putting boys and girls in separate classes improve their education?


Would you opt to put your kids in single-sex classes? Why?


Amy Katz, cooperating attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Leonard Sax, founder and director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education

Edward Colación, principal of Central Los Angeles Middle School #3, a school with an opt-in single-sex instructional focus

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