Same-sex education is OK with Uncle Sam.
Until now, single-sex classes have been allowed in only limited cases, such as gym classes and sex education classes.
The new rules will allow same-sex education anytime schools think it will improve students’ achievement, expand the diversity of courses, or meet kids’ individual needs.
Enrollment must be voluntary. And any children excluded from the class must get a “substantially equal” coed class in the same subject, if not a separate single-sex class.
Districts can also offer an entire school for one gender without doing the same for the other gender, as long as there is a coed school that provides substantially the same thing.
Women senators led the push to allow same-sex classes, though some feminists are now complaining.
Update: California’s brief flirtation with all-girls and all-boys programs flopped, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Six programs were tried; five closed within two years.
A Ford Foundation study in 2001 concluded that the experiment had been a failure — not because single-sex education as a concept was bad, but because the programs were often badly carried out, with teachers poorly trained in gender issues and little state funding.
The researchers from Berkeley, San Diego and Toronto concluded that the schools had closed too soon for them to know if girls and boys benefited from the separate classrooms. They did, however, interview more than 300 participants and found that gender stereotypes were often reinforced under California’s program.
I’m dubious about single-sex education, though I’d like to see experiments with boy-oriented classes taught by male teachers. There may be a case for single-sex classes in middle school, when hormones aren’t under control and students are easily distracted.