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Schools Across U.S. Adopt Same-Sex Class Approach, Data Finds

Schools Across U.S. Adopt Same-Sex Class Approach, Data Finds

In the U.S., there are public schools who are still adopting practices that were common in the 19th century: same-sex classes. 

In about 750 public schools nationwide, states such as Chicago, Florida, and New York have single-sex classrooms, said an article on The New York Times

The article looks at a Charles Drew Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where "about a quarter of the classes are segregated by sex on the theory that differences between boys and girls can affect how they learn and behave."

Angeline H. Flowers, principal of Charles Drew, said "teachers recognize the importance of understanding that Angeline learns differently from Angelo."

"The theory is generally held in low regard by social scientists," the article said. "But Ms. Flowers notes that after the school, where nearly all students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, started offering the classes two years ago, its state rating went from a D to a C. Similar improvements have been repeated in a number of other places, causing single-sex classes to spread to other public school districts, including in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia."

The federal Education Department, "says there are about 750 public schools around the country with at least one single-sex class and 850 entirely single-sex public schools."

"Although government figures are not available for earlier years, the National Association for Single Sex Public Education estimated that in the 2004-05 school year, 122 public schools offered at least one single-sex class and 34 public schools served just one sex," said the article.

Critics, however, say, "that there is little evidence of substantial differences in brain development between boys and girls and that dividing children by gender can reinforce entrenched stereotypes," according to the Times.

Rebecca Bigler, a psychologist at the University of Texas said that segregating by sex — or any social category — increases prejudice based on stereotypes.

“You say there’s a problem with sexism,” Bigler said. “And instead of addressing the sexism, you just remove one sex.”

Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights also expressed issue of this trend in an email, said the article.

"I am very concerned that schools could base educational offerings on stereotypes,” Lhamon said. “No school should be teaching students to live down to diminished expectations for who they can be.”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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