“For many outcomes, there is no evidence of either benefit or harm.
There is limited support for the view that single-sex schooling may be harmful.” The DOE report included the caveat that most research into gender-segregated education has been conducted in private Catholic schools, which hardly makes for an apples-to-apples comparison to public education.
The most extreme program was at Hankins Middle School in Theodore, Alabama, where boys and girls ate lunch at different times and were prohibited from speaking to one another on school grounds. Mark Jones, whose son Jacob attends Hankins, said that when he complained to the principal about the changes, she told him they were necessary because “boys’ and girls’ brains were so different they needed different curriculum.” “Segregating boys and girls didn’t make things any better for our children. “Our kids were basically being taught ideas about gender that come from the Dark Ages.” Another parent, Terry Stevens, also objected.
Hankins teachers were directed to create “competitive, high-energy” classrooms for boys and “cooperative, quiet” classrooms for girls. “The real world is integrated, and it’s important to both me and my son that he learn in a coed environment,” Stevens said. “You learn more like this,” 11-year-old Brenda Orduna told the Mobile Press-Register after making the honor roll at the end of the first quarter for the first time in her academic career. And you won’t ask questions if you don’t get it.” The Mobile County SSPE experiment was short-lived.
Separating boys and girls is a longstanding tradition at private and parochial schools.
The concept began to gain traction in American public schools earlier this decade as schools began to experiment with SSPE in oft-desperate attempts to reduce disciplinary problems and improve test scores.
For example, SSPE doctrine calls for teachers in male classrooms to be constantly moving and speaking in a loud voice, even to the point of shouting, while teachers in female classes should be still and use a calming tone.
This differentiation stems from the central tenet of SSPE ideology that young males thrive on competition and confrontation, while young females require a more nurturing and cooperative learning environment.
Last October, more than 450 public school teachers, principals and central administrators from across the United States — as well as from Argentina, Bermuda, Canada and Poland — came together in Atlanta, Georgia, for the fifth annual convention of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education.
Dozens of presentations extolled the superiority of gender-segregated classrooms and entire schools, with lecture titles such as, “Burps, Farts and Snot: Teaching Chemistry To Middle School Boys,” and “Just Don’t Say ‘SEX’ — tips on how to implement single-gender programs in conservative, rural communities.” Attendees ranged from Chicago and Philadelphia inner-city high school teachers to elementary school principals from small towns in Idaho and Indiana.