NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Do Single-Sex Classrooms Work in Public Schools?

May 6, 2002

Many educators think separating boys from girls in learning settings reduces distractions and advances educational goals. While many private schools are so segregated, there are only 11 single-sex public schools in the nation.

That may be about to change.

  • Under the education bill passed by Congress last year, education secretary Rob Paige is required to issue new guidelines on the legality of single-sex classes under Title IX -- which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • Although the standard legal interpretation of Title IX until now has been that single-sex classrooms are against the law, Paige is reportedly going to rule that such an interpretation is unduly rigid.
  • In addition, he is supposed to announce the administration's intent to issue new regulations that will pave the way for more single-sex classrooms in co-ed schools.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union is expected to oppose the change, along with some feminist groups -- although feminists are said to have mixed reactions to the topic.

Observers say the most powerful liberal proponent of single-sex schooling is Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) was able to win Clinton's support last year for the provision in the education bill that ordered a review of the same-sex school guidelines.

Source: Editorial, "Boys and Girls at School," Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2002.


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