States Offer Single-sex Schools
by Liz Austin, Associated Press, August 24, 2004
For more articles like this
increasing number of public schools, the formula for a better
education requires a little arithmetic: divide the girls from
That's just fine with Kristielle Pedraza, a 13-year-old who says
she will not miss the boys while she attends the Irma Rangel
Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas' first all-girls public
school and one of a growing number of such schools nationally.
"Usually it's the guys that distract all the whole class.
They're usually the class clowns," said Kristielle, who entered
the seventh grade last week. "With no guys in the school, I can
know we will really get busy without much distraction."
At least 10 single-sex public schools were to open this fall in
five states -- Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and South
Advocates say separating the sexes can improve learning by
easing the peer pressure that can lead to misbehavior as well as
low self-esteem among girls.
"John Kerry, George W. Bush, his father and Al Gore all went to
all-boys schools. We don't think that's a coincidence," said Dr.
Leonard Sax, a Maryland physician and psychologist who founded a
nonprofit group that advocates single-sex public education. "We
think single-sex education really empowers girls and boys from
very diverse backgrounds to achieve."
Some women's groups and the American Civil Liberties Union say
segregation of any kind is wrong.
"We think segregation has historically always resulted in
second-class citizens," said Terry O'Neill, a National
Organization for Women vice president.
The number of U.S. public schools offering single-sex classes
jumped from four to 140 in the past eight years, Sax said. At 36
of those schools, at least one grade will have only single-sex
classes this year.
Advocates said they expect the number to increase now that the
U.S. Education Department has announced plans to change its
enforcement of the landmark discrimination law Title IX, which
bars sex discrimination in schools.
"Many school districts wanted to offer this option, but they
feared being sued by interest groups," said Sen. Kay Bailey
Hutchison, a Texas Republican who fought for an amendment in the
No Child Left Behind Act that encouraged districts to experiment
with single-sex education.
The 126 seventh- and eighth-graders at the Dallas school will
take pre-honors classes with a heavy emphasis on math, science
and technology courses, which traditionally enroll fewer girls
Sax said separating the sexes allows teachers and administrators
to focus on the different ways boys and girls learn. Girls, he
said, learn better in quiet classrooms and intimate schools
where they are on a first-name basis with their teachers. Boys
learn better when teachers challenge them to answer rapid-fire
questions and address them by their last names.
Single-sex schools also reduce the pressure to preen for
boyfriends or girlfriends, Sax said.
"Single-sex schools, in ways that matter, are much more like the
real world. Because unless you are a model or an actress, how
you look is not the most important thing in your life," Sax
Roy Young, a former defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles,
founded Texas' first all-male public school in Houston four
years ago. Today, Pro-Vision Charter School has about 100
students in grades five through eight. It combines aspects of
the Boy Scouts, fraternities and the military.
One former student who was enrolled in special education when he
came to the Pro-Vision Center in fifth grade is now taking
college prep courses at his high school, Young said.
"If you added other dynamics to it, say male-female, I don't
know if this kid would've ever came clean and came to us and
said, 'Look, this is the problem I'm having. I can't read,'"
The new all-girls school in Dallas plans to add a grade every
year until it becomes a seventh-through-12th-grade campus.
Kristielle's mother, Amy Pedraza, who has a clerical job with
the district, was particularly impressed with the admissions
process. Kristielle had to submit her grades and test scores,
write an essay and go through an interview.
"She's getting all this experience," Pedraza said. "It's just
awesome. I wish I could have been her age and doing the things
that she's already doing."
On the Net: National Association for Single Sex Public
back to the top ~
back to Breaking News
~ back to