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In the middle of all the heat and noise about same-sex marriage, the Bush administration is quietly pushing a same-sex solution for education that may wind up enraging some on the Left, but will make educating our daughters more effective:
The Education Department plans to change its enforcement of Title IX, the landmark anti-discrimination law, to make it easier for districts to create single-sex classes and schools. The move would give local school leaders discretion to expand choices for parents, whether that means a math class, a grade level or an entire school designed for one gender.
U.S. research on single-sex schooling is limited, but advocates say it shows better student achievement and attendance and fewer discipline problems. Critics say there is no clear evidence, and that single-sex learning doesn't get students ready for an integrated world.
At least 91 of 91,000 public schools offer a form of same-sex education now, including The Philadelphia High School for Girls, which sends almost all of its graduates to college.
Part of Bush's education plan was to allow local school districts a wider range of choices as long as they produced well-educated students. These changes allow the districts to determine whether single-gender classes or schools help them deliver on that mandate, mostly to the benefit of girls. Study after study demonstrates that boys get more focus in the classroom in coeducational settings, especially in the sciences and math, resulting in a sharp deficiency of young women choosing engineering and scientific fields in college. Under the Bush administration's enforcement of Title IX, districts will have the latitude to offer girls-only versions of these classes in order to ensure that they get the same focus as do the boys. Unlike earlier, they will not be required to offer boys-only classes, but simply provide coeducational alternatives.
Several years ago, I assisted at my local parish in the sacrament of confirmation, which took two years preparation and finished when the candidates were usually 16 years old. (In fact, I did this as part of my service for my confirmation, but that's another sea tale for another day.) We worked with many teenagers at a time, and several of the girls in the group attended girls-only Catholic high schools. During an open-discussion exercise that had been going a bit slow, I asked the girls how they liked going to a 'segregated' school, expecting to hear a great deal of complaining; even back then, the Captain was a troublemaker. To my great surprise, every girl enthusiastically endorsed the idea, telling me that without the boys in the environment, the girls got plenty of attention in class for their scholastic effort -- some felt that public-school teachers focused too much on the students' looks -- and the tensions usually present regarding boyfriends, clothing, and makeup were nonexistent at their school. They felt themselves to be better students, and happier teenagers as a result. For my part, these young women were among the most emotionally mature of the large group.
Oddly but perhaps predictably, womens' groups object the strongest to the idea of providing single-gender choices in public schools:
"The notion that you can have schools that are 'separate but less than equal' is a new low in the understanding and protection of anti-discrimination principles," said Jocelyn Samuels, vice president of education and employment at the National Women's Law Center.
Nonsense. First off, no one's arguing providing substandard education in single-gender settings, and furthermore, changing the demographics of the students shouldn't affect the quality of the instruction. Rather than focus on the best and most effective way to educate young women, Samuels sacrifices young women on the altar of political correctness. It certainly demonstrates what's important to the National Women's Law Center, and what isn't, and young women fall into the latter category.Sphere It View blog reactions
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