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Pupils at Single-Sex Schools Excel, Research Shows

Thursday, 02 May 2002 12:00 AM

Children who attend single-sex schools score higher on tests, stay out of trouble and are more willing to study a wider range of subjects than pupils in coeducational schools, researchers report.

"I will admit that separating students by sex is not an ideal way to prepare boys and girls for personal and public lives," Rosemary C. Salomone, a St. John's University law professor and researcher, told the Washington Times' Ellen Sorokin.

"But this is not an ideal world. And for at least some students, a more effective way to achieve an ideal end is to offer them an education separate from the other sex for at least a portion of their schooling."

Research shows that girls in single-sex schools have more confidence and are afforded more leadership opportunities than they would have in coed schools, the Times and Fox News Channel reported Thursday. And boys studying in an all-male setting are more apt to be encouraged to participate in the arts and do volunteer work in their communities.

"Single-sex schools can provide an important contribution, and the people it will benefit the most are disadvantaged children," said Cornelius Riordan, a sociologist at Providence College and panelist Wednesday at a conference at American Enterprise Institute.

"Most people will view single-sex schools as academically tougher, more rigorous, probably more effective but perhaps less enjoyable than coed schools."

The seminar comes a week before Education Secretary Rod Paige is expected to issue new guidelines revising Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to allow President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act.

The act includes single-sex schools and classes among the innovations that may be funded under the federal local-innovation program. The new law would allow government school districts to explore options helping pupils who cannot afford private schools or who choose not to attend them.

"There is so much distraction today in public schools that students lose sight as to why they're really at school," Susan Rollin told the Times. Rollin, a single mother of four from Albany, N.Y., recently won a lottery to send her youngest child to a same-sex school.

So far there are 11 public or charter schools that are exclusively single-sex or offer same-sex classes.

Proponents of single-sex schools say class sizes are typically smaller, thus making it easier for teachers to give individual attention to those who need it. In addition, school days are longer by at least two hours, and children are required to wear uniforms to class.

Maureen Grogan, executive director of Young Women's Leadership Foundation, which runs private middle and secondary schools for girls in New York and Chicago, has seen for herself the benefits of same-sex classrooms.

"This is something that the parents and the students want. The demand is there," Many girls have told her that they are happy to have a "voice" and relationships with teachers they didn’t have before, she said.

Tynisha Smalls, a senior who attends Young Women's Leadership Institute in Harlem, N.Y., said she chose to go to an all-girls school because the classes were smaller and offered a better opportunity to know everyone.

"The experience definitely made me a better person," Miss Smalls said. "This school has made me grow and feel more confident and comfortable with myself."

She will study biology in the fall at prestigious Williams College in Massachusetts.

Before World War II, in recognition of the obvious fact that mixing teenage boys with teenage girls in a secondary setting created unnecessary distractions not conducive to a studious environment, few secondary parochial schools were coed.

Needless to say, left-wing groups such as National Organization for Women, American Civil Liberties Union and American Association of University Women have repeatedly attacked the very idea of single-sex schools.

It appears that in pursuit of their idea of what constitutes liberal education, they prefer educational environments where school officials are driven to do such things as inspect girls' underwear for fear that miniskirted young ladies with skimpy undies might attract the wrong kind of attention from male students. (Such an event was revealed this week at a government school in Poway, Calif.)

But even some leftists recognize the value of single-sex schools. At a hearing last year on Bush's education bill, none other than Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., agreed with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, who said: "Drop the barriers. Open the options for public schools."

Clinton noted the success of Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Fox News reported.

"We know this has energized students and parents," she said. "I believe public school choice should be expanded and as broadly as possible."

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Children who attend single-sex schools score higher on tests, stay out of trouble and are more willing to study a wider range of subjects than pupils in coeducational schools, researchers report. I will admit that separating students by sex is not an ideal way to...
Thursday, 02 May 2002 12:00 AM
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