Saturday, February 16, 2008

Entire Georgia County Moves to Single-Sex Schools

Even the National Association for Single Sex Public Education thinks that Greene County, Georgia, is going too far in its plan to convert the entire district to single sex schools by next fall. Hundreds of school districts have incorporated single-sex education into their curricula since the Department of Ed made it legal in 2006, but this is the first time the practice has been implemented county-wide.

The superintendent says the move is necessary to improve test scores and graduation rates and to reduce pregnancy and disciplinary problems in this poor, rural school district. But NASSPE's Leonard Sax told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the county's move was likely illegal, since parents must also have the option of a public coeducation as well. He further described Greene County's action as "embarrassing" and "the worst kind of publicity for our movement" because it "misses the whole point" of creating a single-sex alternative to coed classrooms so that parents can choose what's better for their children.

I think, of course, that the district's policy is extremely troubling. As I've said before, I'm skeptical of the claims of benefits from single-sex education and I think that schools should raise test scores and graduation rates in other ways that don't rely on and promote the myths that all boys learn one way and and all girls learn another way. I think the fact that NASSPE finds itself now in the position of arguing against single-sex education proves how dangerous it is to promote the difference theory. Of course our culture, susceptible as it is to a hegemonically-induced mythology of natural gender differences, would hear an argument that some classrooms should be segregated and generate from that the belief that sex-segregation is a magic bullet for all educational challenges in all educational settings. How did NASSPE not foresee that?