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Sexual Segregation

by J. L. Cross 12 months ago in student
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For the Best or For the Worst in Schools?

Sexual Segregation
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

2020 brought with it change after dramatic change, especially for school aged children. For the first time they were exposed to isolation, virtual learning, and social distancing. The pandemic changed the way children lived their lives and the way they learned. For the most part it kept them out of school entirely and caused delays and obstacles no one thought of before to their ability to learn and retain knowledge. It was a challenging time for them, parents, and teachers alike.

What does this have to do with single-sex learning/ same-gender education? In trying times it gives us the ability to see where we’re really lacking in the education department. It may sound like a foreign and corrupt concept now, but once before it wasn’t out of the ordinary. We make children walk down halls in straight lines, conform to curriculum and learning standards that seem impossible, especially in math and yet we think it would be odd now for same-gender education? Let’s be frank. It’s Sexual Segregation and it’s more common than we think, but why? Has anyone stopped to say that it's a fact that girls respond better at reading and writing while boys respond better to math and physical education?

When we went co-ed we forced female standards in literature and English on boys and mathematical standards from boys on girls. The real question is: How is this fair to either of them? That’s where the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2011 was supposed to come into effect. It’s important to note that it wasn’t necessarily about the success of the student, but rather funding for educational programs to schools that it provided. It came equipped with controversial provisions that tore parents and school boards down the middle. Thankfully in 2015, President Obama replaced it with the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” or ESSA. While it stripped away those ever controversial provisions it presented something a little more daring, to say the least.

The ESSA provided schools to formulate their own curriculum with standards set by the federal government, but how does that work anyways? Some say it doesn’t, it just means that every school could be teaching something fundamentally different. That’s when the rise came to Common Core. Yikes, I never saw addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication explained like rocket science, yet here it is. A chill runs through me thinking about trying to absorb this awful way of math, without a choice. What was Common Core doing in the first place? It was baiting the state in with promises of funding if it were implemented in their schools. Now, more schools followed the same guidelines with more parallel curriculum just to receive their funding.

Why does all this matter on the subject of same-sex schools? Would any of these things be necessary if it were more common to have gender segregated classes in co-ed schools? Probably not. If we had classes specifically catering to the strengths of the students, wouldn’t they be overall more successful in the long run?

Edweek.org offers a host of research done on this very idea and its implementation (Single-Gender Public Schools in 5 Charts 2017) and it’s occurrence throughout the U.S. There’s more than a thousand same-sex school in the the U.S., but that excludes juvenile-justice and alternative, special education, and also vocational schools. Same-sex education didn’t take off at first in grade-schools, but it was available in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It began taking off some time in the late 90s.

If we look at The AAUW Report, research encompassing two decades shows us that from preschool to college, males receive far more instruction and teacher attention than females (AAUW 1992). This reasserts that maybe gender segregation in schools would lead to more success and instruction in female students. Speaking of female success; Males receive more wait-time than girls, allowing them more time to formulate the right answer and giving them more motivation to succeed by answering a question correctly. Sadker and Sadker, "waiting longer for a student to answer is one of the most powerful and positive things a teacher can do. It is a vote of confidence,” this asserts that the teachers think the student is capable. By reducing this time the students are more likely to generate wrong answers or not answer at all. As males have more of this wait time they’re more likely to try harder to achieve. Girls are far more pressed for time in these situations and often don’t have the right answers. This easily affects a girl's motivation to try to succeed (Sadker and Sadker, 1994).

The evidence is piling up that maybe sexual segregation in schools wouldn’t entirely be a bad concept. We see many teachers and parents continuing to complain about the way girls are dressed in class. Again, using frankness, puberty is difficult on both girls and boys, and we’ve all been there as our hormones surge out of control. Controlled segregated environments for learning could reduce the overall distractions for both girls and boys alike.

As of 2014-15 school year same-gendered schools were popping up more and more. Florida and Texas seemed to have the most with 29 same-gendered schools. Missouri had 28 and to my own surprise New York had 26. While every state has a number of same-gendered schools, these were the leaders of the pack according to Edweek (Single-Gender Public Schools in 5 Charts; 2017). What’s even more surprising is that Single-Sex schools served way more students in poverty than public schools and their racial make up was mostly Black/ African American and Hispanic/ Latino. Only 1 in 10 students was white in 2017. This is a complete opposite of the Public Schools in the U.S.

The decision on Single-Sex schools and Sexual Segregation is still out to the Jury, you. We all want the best for our children and our nation's future. It’s one thing everyone in our nation wants for future generations that we can find common ground in during the trying times we’re in now; Political divide further threatens this great place we call home. It’s time we started analyzing what is best for our nation at its roots, and it all starts with the education of our children. Will the rise of Single-Sex education and catering to the students deepest needs take precedence?

- Reporting: Corey Mitchell | Data Analysis: Alex Harwin & Francisco Vara-Orta | Design & Visualization: Francis Sheehan; Single-Gender Public Schools in 5 Charts (2017)

- Sadker, D., Sadker, M. (1994) Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls. Toronto, ON: Simon & Schuster Inc.

- Bailey, S. (1992) How Schools Shortchange Girls: The AAUW Report. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company.

- an Equity Literacy Institute and EdChange project © Paul C. Gorski, 1995-2020. Gender Bias in Education, Amanda Chapman of D'Youville College

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About the author

J. L. Cross

Passionate writer that loves fantasy, fiction, and some article writing. One published workbook on Amazon KDP, Writing a Book, Start to Finish; and hopes to publish more soon!

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