NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Single-Sex School Experiment Abandoned In California

May 24, 2001

California has abandoned its two-year experiment with single-sex public schools before any conclusions could be reached regarding its worth. A new Ford Foundation study says the schools were closed because programs were often poorly implemented, teachers were poorly trained in gender issues and state funding dried up.

"It was very much about power and politics -- and clearly about money," says the study's co-author, Lea Hubbard of the University of California at San Diego.

  • The original aim was to inspire leadership in girls and sensitivity in boys -- as well as to increase school choices, replicate the legendary success of private girls' schools and offer solutions for urban boys in search of male role models.
  • The schools were required to operate in pairs, and only one of the six sets of all-boy and all-girl schools that opened in 1996 and 1997 survives.
  • University researchers who observed classrooms and interviewed more than 300 participants found that sexual stereotypes were often reinforced under California's program.
  • Isolated successes in some classrooms were largely the result of the personality and experience of teachers and principals, not the program's construction, the study found.

Source: Nanette Asimov (San Francisco Chronicle), "California Single-Sex Public School Experiment Fails," Washington Times, May 24, 2001.


Browse more articles on Education Issues