School & District Management

Number of Single-Sex Schools Growing

October 19, 2004 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

N.Y.C.-based network opens schools for girls in urban districts

Since 1996, the Young Women’s Leadership Foundation has opened six single-sex public schools—five for girls and one for boys.

The New York City-based organization, which aims to create educational options for students in urban public schools, has schools in East Harlem and the Bronx in New York, and in Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia.

See Also

The growth of single-sex public schooling has been especially rapid recently. Ten single- sex schools opened during the 2004-05 school year alone, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, based in Poolesville, Md. There are now 34 public single-sex schools and 113 coed public schools that offer single-gender classes, the association says.

In part, the interest in single-sex public education stems from a friendlier climate in Washington under the Bush administration.

The U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights has proposed amending the regulations governing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—which prohibits sex dis crimination in programs that receive federal money—to allow more flexibility in offering single-sex schools or classes. Anticipating the change, some schools have started the practices.

The department also has commissioned a review of the academic literature about the effects of single-sex schools, headed by Cornelius Riordan, a sociology professor at Providence College in Rhode Island. The study is being financed by the department’s Women’s Educational Equity Act program.

“The department is interested because it views single-sex schools as another opportunity for school choice,” said David Thomas, a spokesman for the Education Department.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act also allows local education agencies to use money from the law’s innovative-programs block grants to support same-gender schools and classrooms. That $297 million program, however, is proposed for either elimination or severe cuts for fiscal 2005. (“Senate Plan Provides Bigger Spending Boost for Federal School Aid,” Sept. 22, 2004.)

Kathleen Ponze, the principal of the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, believes single-sex schools are best for students. Last year, the graduation rate at her 385-student school stood at 98 percent. Two-thirds of the students are Latina, 33 percent are African-American, and about 85 percent qualify to receive subsidized lunches.

“In the large, coed schools, I have seen kids fall between the cracks because of issues of sex, alcohol, and drugs,” Ms. Ponze said. “It is hard to create a safe base for them there.”

Fans and Foes

In Chicago, the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, which opened in 2000, is the only all-girls school in the city. This past June, when the first class of seniors graduated, Oprah Winfrey was the keynote speaker. The media mogul also spoke at the 2001 graduation ceremony at the East Harlem school.

Ann Rubinstein Tisch and her husband, Andrew H. Tisch, the chairman of the executive committee of the New York City-based Loews Corp., teamed up with the New York City public schools and the Center for Educational Innovation to launch the East Harlem school. Two years later, Ms. Tisch established the foundation.

“The option of a single-sex environment was available only to affluent, parochial, and yeshiva students,” she said in a recent interview.

But expanding single-sex schooling remains controversial. The American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the Education Department in April opposing the proposed changes to the Title IX regulations.

“The assumption that all boys or girls learn in a certain way can make them lose some opportunities,” said Emily Martin, a staff lawyer with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.

Kathy Whitmire, the executive director of the Westminster, S.C.-based Cherokee Boys School, said she believes that being part of a single-gender environment diminishes some of the pressures boys might feel during adolescence.

The therapeutic boarding school, which opened a year and a half ago, takes boys ages 11 to 15 with attention deficit disorder and other problems, including difficulty in managing their anger and forming healthy attachments.

Because some studies suggest that boys need large amounts of space, the eight-student school is located in the woods. The boys work in an organic garden, learn to crochet and knit, prepare blackberry and apple butter, and take part in many other recreational activities.

“This gives the students the opportunity to explore, research, or camp,” Ms. Whitmire said.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Equity and Access in Mathematics Education: A Deeper Look
Explore the advantages of access in math education, including engagement, improved learning outcomes, and equity.
Content provided by MIND Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Principals, You Aren't the Only Leader in Your School
What I learned about supporting teachers in my first week as an assistant principal started with just one question: “How would I know?”
Shayla Ewing
4 min read
Collaged illustration of a woman climbing a ladder to get a better perspective in a landscape of ladders.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management Opinion 3 Steps for Culturally Competent Education Outside the Classroom
It’s not just all on teachers; the front office staff has a role to play in making schools more equitable.
Allyson Taylor
5 min read
Workflow, Teamwork, Education concept. Team, people, colleagues in company, organization, administrative community. Corporate work, partnership and study.
Paper Trident/iStock
School & District Management Opinion Why Schools Struggle With Implementation. And How They Can Do Better
Improvement efforts often sputter when the rubber hits the road. But do they have to?
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management How Principals Use the Lunch Hour to Target Student Apathy
School leaders want to trigger the connection between good food, fun, and rewards.
5 min read
Lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Students share a laugh together during lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Courtesy of Lynn Jennissen