MIDDLETON, Idaho (AP) – Robin Gilbert didn't set out to confront gender stereotypes when she split up the boys and girls at her elementary school in rural southwestern Idaho.
But that's exactly what happened, with her Middleton Heights Elementary now among dozens of public schools nationwide being targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union in a bitter struggle over whether single-sex learning should be continued. Under pressure, single-sex programs have been dropped at schools from Missouri to Louisiana.
"It doesn't frustrate me," Gilbert said of the criticism, "but it makes the work harder."
While Gilbert's school is believed to be the only one in Idaho offering single-sex classes, the movement is widespread in states like South Carolina, which has more than 100 schools that offer some form of a single-gender program.
Single-sex classes began proliferating after the U.S. Education Department relaxed restrictions in 2006. With research showing boys, particularly minority boys, are graduating at lower rates than girls and faring worse on tests, plenty of schools were paying attention.
I never understood the point of separating boys/girls in school. There are tons of all girls/all boys catholic/private schools and i just don't get it. In the real world you come across all types of people and you should be exposed to that in school.
Single sex education has significant support in the research. While I'm not a supporter of it in general, I see the acts of the Principal as seeking to better the education of the children, and, honestly, research absolutely supports that. I'm ambivalent about doing it in a public school setting as I wonder about Constitutional issues, and would really need to read up on that.
I don't think I would send my son to a single gender school, though I think there are students who would benefit from a single gender settings. It depends on what the parents want and what's in the best interest of that child.
Like anything else, I think the public schools get thrashed for either offering or not offering lots of options and single gender classrooms are part of this.