Single Sex Education: A Solution For Low Achieving Inner-City Public Schools?

Single sex-education in public kindergarten through twelfth grade schools is a fairly new concept. During the past decade, there has been a remarkable increased interest in offering single-sex education in the United States K-12 public schools. The increase in single-sex education could be partly attributed to the May 2002 former President Bush’s proposal to spend $385 million from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001’s allocation to create separate schools for boys and girls. The Bush administration’s proposal appeared to be in conflict with the 1972’s Title IX regulation 34 CFR106.34 which mandates that schools receiving federal funds shall not create programs and activities on the basis of sex except in cases of few contact sports, sex-education classes, remedial or affirmative action (Bronski, 2002). The appearance of the stated conflict reduced the surge to create single-sex education schools and classes as school districts across the nation cautiously awaited clarification from the Bush administration. The clarification came when the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations that make it legal to educate boys and girls separately under certain conditions effective November 24, 2006.
The regulations are the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of the 1972’s Title IX regulation 34 CFR106.34 federal statute. The Education Department also emphasized that single-sex education is completely voluntary for districts and schools. Stephanie J. Monroe, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, stated in a conference call with reporters in November 2006, “This is not a federal mandate. This is an option that can be helpful to some students.” Single-sex education is designed to offer parents more choices in public education (Davis, 2006).
One of the reasons for the rise of these schools and classes is the belief that single-sex education will bring about substantial changes in the academic performance of under-performing public schools which are mostly located in the American inner cities. Proponents of single-sex education believe that high dropout rates and discipline problems stemming from interaction between boys and girls will be reduced in single-sex classrooms and schools, thereby leaving room for higher student achievement. Some schools that have experienced success at varying degrees with single-sex education are spread across several cities in the United States such as Boynton Beach, Florida, Columbus, Ohio, Memphis, Tennessee, and Seattle, Washington.
This paper analyzed the historical background, policies, regulations, practices, challenges and successes of single-sex education in the United States K-12 public schools. The effects of single-sex education on student achievement, with emphasis on under achieving inner-city public schools were focused on. The academic research suggests positive educational benefits of single-sex schooling for girls (if not affluent), at-risk students, and African-American and Hispanic students (regardless of sex). Further, white males either benefit slightly or at worst realize a neutral outcome.

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