Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Professor Grossman's Column on Single-Sex Education

Hofstra law professor Joanna Grossman's most recent column on examines the ACLU's recent challenge to single-sex classes at a West Virginia middle school (a case we also blogged about) and its study of single-sex education in America, called "Teach Kids Not Stereotypes" (see prior posts here and here).  Grossman explains the Department of Education's 2006 regulations implementing the No Child Left Behind law permit public schools to use single-sex education only when doing so is "substantially related" either to "an overall established policy to provide diverse educational opportunities" or "to meet the particular, identified educational needs of its students."  The regulations also require that programs must be voluntary, and allow for a co-education alternative.  Yet, the ACLU's study, as well as the West Virginia case, suggest that schools are not taking these requirements seriously, since so many of them are based on the premise of questionable scientific validity that boys and girls are hard-wired to learn differently.  What's more, Professor Grossman points out, the Department of Education's enforcement of the regulatory requirements and limitations is inherently lax, as the regulations provide for school district's self-evaluation rather than periodic compliance checks by the agency.  Grossman concludes by echoing the ACLU's recommendation, "that the Department of Education should act swiftly to rescind the 2006 regulations that have led to a widespread misunderstanding of the requirements of the implementation of single-sex education in public schools, to reinstate the prior regulations, and to provide immediate and much-needed guidance making clear that programs based on sex-stereotyped instruction violate Title IX and the Constitution."