Friday, January 02, 2009

Same-sex schools encourage self-esteem


Detroit has been at the forefront of a growing but controversial movement that aims to boost student achievement by splitting the sexes into different schools. Now Boston officials are fighting to open the state's first single-gender public schools in more than a generation.

Proponents say all-boy or all-girl schools allow some students to better focus on learning without the distraction of the opposite sex, enabling them to excel in areas where a gender gap in achievement typically exists. National standardized tests have long shown girls lagging in math and science, and boys in reading and writing.

"I would never have thought about joining a robotics team if I went to school somewhere else," said Amanda Johnson, 17, a senior. "Most of the time you see boy teams. And when there are girls, they usually make the trophies or design [team] T-shirts."

The Boston Globe


I have to admit being divided on this issue. The only question for me is one of pragmatics. I'd like to see kids socialized to be comfortable around the other gender, but I have seen how sexual tension -- starting at age 10 or so -- makes learning hard and distracts people with trying to look cool, etc.

The usual suspects interject a completely useless viewpoint:


Jacqueline Washington, president pro tem of the Michigan chapter of the ACLU and a former social worker in the Detroit public schools, said "Research says what works best for children is small class sizes, parental involvement, and good teaching."


How likely is that, Jacqueline? We can't afford small class sizes, most parents don't want to be involved, and we can't afford (apparently) to pay teachers enough to attract quality. Not only that, (apparently) we must burden teachers with a giant load of bureaucratic rules and controls, so that they have plenty of paperwork, five huge classes a day, and when they get home at night, another four hours of grading papers.

The only people signing up for teaching now are desperate.

In the 1970s and 1980s, you had the women seeking to supplement a busy husband's income. They say their role as sacred: guardians of education.

The more we've politicized education, put in bureaucracy, forced various forms of integration (the biggest one for me is mixing in special education kids with the general population, and not admitting that over half of our students now will not benefit from a high school education and it's questionable they'll benefit from a middle school one) and constraints, put teachers at risk for destruction at the hint of a sex suit or discrimination suit, etc. etc., the more we've started getting people who are teaching because they don't intend to grade papers after work and will be busy drinking.

So now education has self-selected the desperate and alcoholic instead of the hopeful and helpful. Good thinking! But that, too, is an unpopular truth.

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Subvert the dominant paradigm, don't be a solipsist.

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