Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indianapolis high school imposes strict segregation

Since the case in Vermillion Parish (LA) was settled last year (disallowing single-sex classrooms), there has been a spot open for the public school that could execute the strictest form of sex-segregation.
Looks like Arlington Community High School in Indianapolis has taken that spot. And most people are happy about it. But that could also be an impression created by the story I read which took a generally positive tone. It also failed to note that this so-called nationwide research that shows single-sex education is better is somewhat specious.
But there certainly are students and administrators and teachers who like that there seems to be more participation and engagement in the classroom and less drama in the hallways. Yes--everything is segregated: hallways, buses, the cafeteria. The move to such strict segregation came after the principal felt that, given the extreme underperformance of his school, he had nothing to lose by implementing the segregation. Spending less time disciplining students in and out of the classroom certainly would seem to free up some time and space for more learning. But is this the best way to do this? What are the consequences? And are we really assuming that all boys and all girls are going to get along thus freeing the school from conflict? And, of course, the underlying racial stereotypes (the majority of ACHS pupils are students of color) are problematic.
A short news piece from Ms. magazine about the school and the new policy does mention this aspect; which is good because few media outlets do when discussing any of the single-sex education cases.

Another interesting aspect: the school's lack of success actually means it will be one of four high schools in Indianapolis that the state will take over from the school district next year. That may put an end to the segregation--or not. Assuming no one(s) challenge it before then.