Single-sex schools miss point of primary education

School districts seem to jump on the latest fads. In 1998, there were only four public schools in the United States that were separated by gender; now there are about 200, according to Leonard Sax, a specialist on single-sex education.

With this concept, it seems as though America is going backward. Segregation of the races was outlawed in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. However, in 2001, Congress amended the No Child Left Behind Act, making it legal to separate students by gender.

Some may argue that boys and girls think and learn in different ways, but there is no proof.

“No major education research group is proposing single-sex education as a way to improve teaching,” said Carol Tracy of the Women’s Law Group to the Media General News Service. “If a co-ed school received the attention and resources being dedicated to single-sex programs, it would see similar results.”

Last fall, McKinley Elementary School became the first in Pennsylvania to adopt separation of the sexes in schools, giving the practice a one-year trial for half of its fifth-grade reading and math classes.

Locally, the practice has been deemed a success at the Brandon Alternative School, a school for students who have committed serious offenses. However, it has not been proven that it will work in standard schools – which is why it is so controversial.

David Scurry, principal of Ronald McNair Middle School in Lake City, S.C., decided to separate the genders in English, math, science and social studies classes. He told Media General News Service that both of the groups have improved academically.

What these administrators are forgetting is that for children, school is not just about test scores – it’s about getting them ready for the real world and life experiences. And if schools continue to separate by gender, how are the children going to be ready for life if they lack interaction with the opposite sex? Granted, children will see and might play with those of the opposite gender at these schools. Yet they are missing out on the opportunity to learn how to work with each other at an early age – unless there is going to be a future movement toward same-sex workplaces.