Tennessee tries single-sex classes

A Memphis high school credits separate classes for male and female students for a jump in test scores.

MEMPHIS — In “Romeo and Juliet,” the plot thickens along slightly different lines for male and female students at Booker T. Washington High.

For boys, the story advances in the fights between the Montagues and the Capulets; for girls, it’s the timeless love story.

. . . “Boys like nonfiction. They like gory, bloody stories. They like protagonists who look like them, sound like them and act like them,” (Principal Alisha Kiner) said. “We know from research that girls are more comfortable with other girls. That’s why we all go to the bathroom together.

“We’re not afraid to compete and share our opinions as we are when we are in rooms with boys.”

An all-girls’ charter school is opening in a low-income Chattanooga neighborhood for middle and high school students: Applicants must test below proficiency in math or reading or attend a low-performing school that’s failed to make progress.

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  1. superdestroyer says:

    after hearing for years that the only way that whites can learn to function in a diverse workplace is to lower admissions standards for non-whites and have quotas for college and selective high school admissions, I find it odd that the same educators can now say that having a high school of all black females will prepare those same black females for the diverse workplace of the future.

  2. Miller Smith says:

    Great! Teach girls to not compete with boys.

  3. Soapbox Diva says:

    I remember that I did not really understand Romeo and Juliet until listening to the guys in class discuss the fight scenes and the family battle. I find guys’ perceptives invaluable as a female to understanding the whole story. The romance is pure mush without the family conflict and vice versa. Plus this story is about a girl and boy from very different backgrounds coming together, so how ironic is it that the school would keep the genders apart.

  4. It seems to me that it would be relatively easy to do a study on same-gender education since the private schools have been doing it for so long. I don’t buy all the “different brains” and the sexist nonsense about boys liking violence and girls liking the romance, but I do buy that during the hormone surges of middle school, getting them separated might make life easier for all concerned.

    FWIW, Romeo & Juliet are from the exact same background — their families just don’t get along. Maybe you’re thinking of West Side Story. And the plot is boy meets girl; boy has sex with girl; boy and girl die. How is that ironic in this context?

  5. Educating boys and girls separately appears to be topical. Here’s a reference to some more references, some of which are for completed studies.


  6. From the report on the all-girls school it seemed as if the school was intending to draw students from a specific neighborhood. If they hope that the eventual enrollment will reach 350, what will that do to the other schools in the neighborhood? Will there be de-fact boys schools? Or will all the remaining schools become dominated by boys? Sure seems like there will be some unintended consequences.

  7. I have no problem at all with people attending single-sex schools if that’s what they want to do. However, the stated “Romeo and Juliet” reason claimed as a benefit makes no sense to me. The purpose of education is *not* to reinforce whatever belief, prejudices, and behavior patterns you might already have; it is at least in part to expose you to different kinds of thinking.

    Soapbox Diva already commented about the benefits she got from having boys in the class when R&J was performed/discussed; I’m sure she’s not the only one who benefitted.

  8. Soapbox Diva says:

    I was thinking about Romeo and Juliet. OK, separate backgrounds instead of different would have been a better description. Romeo and Juliet did not who each other were when they meet each other as teens, because they had been raised completely apart from one another. Separation of genders may make school go by more smoothly, but eventually the two genders need to interact together.

  9. My completely unscientific gut says grades 7 – 9 might do best separated if one were going to segregate by gender. That seems to be when the hormones are truly out of control. Black girls especially seem to settle down quite a bit in that department sophomore year.

    But it’s a charter. If it doesn’t work, it’ll fold, right? Isn’t that the benefit of charters, getting to try new things? If they get results, hooray for the kids. If not, they’ll disapear. And if the other school ends up mostly boy, so what?

    And believe me, girls and boys “interact” just plenty outside of school.

  10. Mrs. Davis says:

    Hawthorne effect.

    And the weight of the research is that everybody learns better with girls in the room. So that says girls only classes for girls and co-ed classes for boys.

    Or freedom of choice for all.

  11. I don’t buy all the “different brains” and the sexist nonsense about boys liking violence and girls liking the romance…

    Sexist nonsense? You must be an ideologue to turn a blind eye to the obvious. I recommend this book for the childless and clueless.

  12. Oops! Go here.

  13. BadaBing: I suggest starting here:
    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=261 for some good rebuttals of all that crap. The studies your book relies on don’t prove what they purport to prove.

    I’m not an idealogue; I’m just a realist. I have probably taught over a thousand teenaged girls and boys. Whichever genius came up with the idea that boys aren’t as “verbal” as girls needs to either be taken out and shot OR substitute in a high school classroom for one day.

  14. LS:

    Do you think children need a father as much as they need a mother if they are to grow into healthy and successful adults? I’m not sure we’re talking about the same “crap.”


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