In the U.S, public education evolved to coeducational from single-sex settings in the late 19th century. The single-sex schools at that time existed as church-affiliated or independent schools. The endorsement of Title IX legislation in 1972 that supported gender parity made it unlawful to form additional single-sex public schools or classes. The single-sex schools that existed at the time were allowed to continue. Several courses such as human sexuality and contact sports were permitted to continue being single sex. There had been numerous efforts in the 1990s to enact legislation that would allow single-sex schools. However, such efforts were futile until in 2001 following re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). This re-authorization of the ESEA came in the form of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) ACT of 2001(Bixler, 2005). The purpose of the NCLB was to elevate achievement and bridge gaps in achievement.
Position Paper Should Public Schools Offer Single Sex Instruction
Table of Contents
Gender prejudice in education is a menacing predicament that causes only the minority of individuals to confront it or take notice. The losers of this prejudice have been educated to be passive and silent, and are consequently reluctant to stand up and confront the unjust treatment they received. Educators are by and large ignorant of their own prejudiced instructional conduct because they are merely instructing how they were educated, and the delicate gender discrimination found in instructional materials are frequently overlooked (Davis, 2002). Boys and girls today are getting unequal and separate educations as a result of the gender socialization that occurs in schools. Unless educators are enlightened over gender-role socialization, as well as the prejudiced messages they are inadvertently imparting to their students daily, and until educators are presented with the resources and methods requisite to abolish gender-bias in their schools and classrooms, girls will go on with receiving an unbalanced education (Sultana, Lazim, & Sohaimi, 2011). This paper posits to investigate whether public schools should offer single-sex instruction with a focus on supporting single-sex instruction.
The U.S. Department of Education in March 2004, published review regulations that were intended to govern the operation of the single-sex schools or classes. The regulations stipulated that:
- Coeducational schools that would operate single-sex classes should present an underlying principle for the classes.
- They were obliged to offer either single-sex classes for the unattended gender or coeducational classes in the same subject matter at the same school.
- They were obliged to perform periodic reviews to establish if the environment still rendered the single-sex classes necessary.
Several studies exhibit that the momentum for single gender instruction in both contexts affected the curriculum, pedagogy, and organization in each school, as well as the educators’ ideologies concerning gender. Ultimately, the politics around the legislation, as well as the resource interest of school and district administration, and the absence of institutional support for the gender-based reform merged to structure the downfall of the majority of the single gender schools.
In the present day, perhaps increasingly aggressively than before, the public schools are beleaguered for apparently failing to enforce academic rigor. These schools are also under pressure for allegedly contributing to the moribund societal, moral values. In rejoinder to these issues, several policy makers have pressed for the development of school choice in the public school structure. In recent times, the choice proponents have embraced single gender instruction, a model that obtained momentum from the private sector. This shift has been as a possible answer to the tribulations of public education. So as to establish the future and status of educational reforms, it is necessary to scrutinize the social, economic, and political contexts in on which these institutions were instituted. It would also be essential to investigate how actions at the state, school, and district levels, in interaction, shaped single-gender public instruction (Sultana et al., 2011).
In order to understand the interrelations amongst these diverse contexts, it is essential to scrutinize the implementation of single-gender public instruction as a co-constructed technique. It is essential to view these interrelations as a network of interrelated consequences and conditions, where the outcomes of the actions in one context might become the circumstances for the other. Specifically interactions in one context of policy, for instance, state legislature, would generate consequences which sequentially might form the interactions of other factors, for instance teachers, or district administrators in the related context, in the policy thread. Studying how educators essentially implement the single-gender instruction legislation is imperative, as several studies propose that it is done in the process of reacting to laws that organizations build the meanings of the legislation and mediate the impact on public institutions and society (John, Wen-Jung, Susan, & Sally, 2004).
The Department of Education in the U.S proposed new policies to administrate over the legitimacy of single-sex classes and schools in March, 2004. These proposed policies attracted to a great extent negative observation (Bixler, 2005). Different theoreticians view single-sex education as a means:
- To modify and develop self-esteem and self-concept in girls;
- To enhance girls’ enrollment in courses they habitually avoid in the coeducational settings;
- To decrease distractions that prevail in coeducation schools once students attain adolescence;
- To control in an effective manner the conduct of boys;
- To enhance the accomplishment of vulnerable students in both sexes;
- To decrease or eliminate sex-based stereotypes as well as accomplish gender parity in classrooms;
- To develop education results by being cautious about pedagogically important gender disparity, principally in brain function.
In view of the above perspective, it is evident that several proponents of single-sex instructions advocate for segregation of students according to their sex. While on the other hand, the proponents of coeducation allege that, educators ought to endeavor to improve the conditions in coeducation schools and classes in order that all students benefit equally. The proponents of coeducation embrace that, segregation according to sex costs the society in ways comparable to segregation according to class or ethnicity (Gerson, 2005).
The contemporary thrust in favor of single-gender public schools is remarkable since research findings on their consequences are conflicting. Furthermore, the research carried out on single-gender schools has primarily been carried out in the parochial and private sectors, but not in public schools. Consequently, selection prejudice has figured powerfully into research outcomes (Sultana et al., 2011).
Some studies propose that single-gender schools are advantageous to both females and males, as opposed to coeducation institutions, because they present a stronger scholarly climate and decrease distractions. Benefits in relation to leadership, self-esteem, or engagement in science and math for girls who attend single-sex institutions have been confirmed by different studies. Other researches indicate that, single-gender schools are predominantly advantageous for boys. This is because; they encourage male bonding and optimize the development of male character. Male students from minority and low-income backgrounds have also been found to principally profit from the single-gender schools (Davis, 2002).
While the abovementioned studies are in favor of single-gender schools, other scholars have queried the scholarly advantages presented by single-gender instruction. Some allege that single-gender learning settings encourage stereotypical mind-sets in regard to the opposite gender (Sultana et al., 2011).
Whereas single-gender schools are still existent for the most part in the parochial and private sectors in the United States, many public schools have tested the single-gender programs or classes. In tandem, there is substantial legal and political debate as regards their value. Several feminist organizations have expressed concern over single-gender schools in that they are an impediment in the battle against separate but identical public schooling. The American Association for University Women (AAUW), as well as, the National Organization of Women (NOW), alleges that single-gender instruction is not the solution in regard to gender parity. Rather, these organizations advocate for altering practices in coeducation public schools in order to make them increasingly equitable for boys and girls. Single-gender instruction has been under attack on legal grounds. This has led programs and schools in a number of states to be forced to turn into coed or break up on the basis that they violate Title IX of the U.S. Constitution (Gerson, 2005).
In general, additional research is required to illuminate how single-gender instruction functions in the public sector, principally in the contemporary socio-political context that is typified by increased demands for school reforms, absence of ample financial support for schools, and tensions among the common good and self-interest. Though topical trends imply that single-sex instruction is on the increase, it is imperative to remember the genesis of legal challenges. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is a strong disincentive against the separation of students according to gender. On the other hand, it remains apparent whether segregating students by gender is significantly related to the accomplishment of those objectives; success on that point of the transitional scrutiny test will probably require larger consensus amongst researchers (John et al., 2004).
Several studies demonstrate that public schools in the U.S are finding innovative reasons to separate the sexes. This has been the norm for centuries, whereby both sexes were taught separately typically in the private settings. But topical research on gender-specific education, new federal agility, and several interesting test-score developments are forcing leaders in public school to reconsider the supremacy of coeducational education. In 2006, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which is the country’s fourth-largest district, launched the state’s initial entirely gender-isolated school. This was considered as a stimulus leadership school for girls in the 6th to 10th grades, and subsequently, one for boys followed in 2007-08. According to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education (NASSPE), the amount of public schools providing single-sex instruction has increased over the decades, with such classrooms emerging in several cities. The increase is expressly attributed to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which introduced innovative agility to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Sultana et al., 2011).
The economic advantages gained from coeducation instruction of the two genders in the same school, and the necessity to secure egalitarianism for women in professional, political, and industrial activities, have remarkably influenced the broadening of coeducation. There were dotted examples of coeducation as far back as the late 17th century in the American Colonies, and in Scotland. However, there was no universal trend until the huge growth of public education between the 1830s and 1845 in the developing Western United States. The physical distance linking schools in the region, as well as the diminutive number of students caused the elementary schools to take in the girls. The movement multiplied as expected to the secondary schools in the restructuring of public education following the Civil War. It is documented that the Oberlin College offered degrees to both genders in the late 1830s (Davis, 2002).
However, it was the growth of state universities in the post–Civil War period that regulated collegiate coeducation. Ever since 1960, practically every previously single-sex college developed into coeducational. It is evident that, the movement for coeducational experienced strong opposition outside the U.S. In places such as Europe, the Scandinavian nations were the initial supporters, although several other countries restricted coeducation only to institutes of higher learning. Even though coeducation has spread since the World War II, there are several countries where it meets resistance on cultural and religious grounds, to this day (Sultana et al., 2011).
This paper recommends that, single-sex instruction should be encouraged in public schools. Once educators have recognized the gender-biases that have prevailed in the education system, the role played by single-sex instruction will be appreciated. Policy makers in education require guaranteeing that gender parity is an authentic instead of a rhetorical precedence. They also require ensuring that change is considerably resourced in educator instruction as well as in the school practices. Eventually, to realize the status of boys and girls in education, it is essential to scrutinize the interface connecting learning expectations and practices, as well as future assumed societal roles. The net impact of education on the ethical imperative on girls to care, as well as the societal imperative on boys to be prevailing, is that it generates anticipatory structures of socialization. These anticipatory structures of socialization influence choices of subjects in school, as well as career choices. In conclusion, in defense of single-sex instruction, these gendered codes are lived out in women who end up in underprivileged positions in society, in spite of their intellectual potentials.
Bixler, M. (2005). Split Decision. Teacher Magazine; 17, (3), p9.
Davis, M. (2002). Department Aims to Promote Single-Sex Schools. Education Week; 21, (36), p24.
Gerson, L. (2005). Single-Sex Education. Georgetown Journal of Gender & the Law; Annual Review, 6, (3), pp 547-559.
John G, Wen-Jung, P. Susan, S. & Sally, T. (2004). Towards a Typology of Gender-Related School Effects: Some New Perspectives on a Familiar Problem. Oxford Review of Education, 30, (4), 5.
Sultana, A., Lazim, A., Sohaimi, B. (2011). Gender Studies in Teacher Education: An Empirical Research. Asian Social Science, 7, (12), pp168-174.