Imagine a classroom with only female students. Imagine a classroom with only male students. As the young ladies that attend the Young Women’s Leadership School of Chicago could tell you, there are fewer distractions, less worry over appearance and more time to focus on academics rather than social skills. The Bush administration is planning on giving the go-ahead to multiple school districts for exactly this type of schooling.
With many groups at odds on the issue, the only real voices to be heard are those of parents and students, the only groups with the right to decide what is done with their education.
According to an CNN.com report, critics of the idea say that it distracts from real problems in school districts all across the country such as sexual harassment, poor funding, overgrown classes, poor academics and increasing problems with discipline. But research on single-sex education says that such schools are more disciplined and orderly and that students perform better in core academic classes. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation said, “We live in the real world, and that world has got men and women in it. They must learn to compete.”
The assumption that girls who attend single-sex schools will be unable to compete with boys is unfounded. Organizations like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America focus on growth and interaction in a single-sex environment. Is Smeal implying that it is impossible for individuals who have taken part in these programs to compete with the opposite sex?
The idea of single-sex schooling merits consideration, especially for students who find themselves never concentrating on academics and always on their social life. If the schools are given equal funding and both sexes offered the same opportunity, then why not support them? The issue should be presented to parents, not debated by leaders of feminist organizations and teacher councils. This is their future, they deserve the choice.