School Climate & Safety

Some Schools Jump the Regulatory Gun, Offering Single-Sex Classes

By Michelle R. Davis — September 04, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Public schools anticipating a change in the federal policy that discourages single-sex education have already started this fall to separate girls and boys for subjects like math and English, and even for lunch.

But existing federal regulations still effectively ban the practice. Department of Education officials say they’ll investigate cases where they receive complaints on the matter, even though they expect new proposed regulations to be released in the next few months.

While a Department of Education commission is examining how Title IX affects males and females on the athletic fields, this other aspect of the same law—equality in the classroom—is slowly being tested across the country.

This year at Southern Leadership Academy, a public middle school in the 95,000-student Jefferson County school district in Kentucky, August brought not only a new school year, but also a new structure. Principal Anita Jones decided to separate boys and girls in her struggling Louisville school.

“We had children who showed potential and capabilities, but they weren’t demonstrating that on tests,” she said. “What we were doing wasn’t working.”

Ms. Jones studied several other schools that had recently tried single-sex education, and with the unanimous blessing of her school’s faculty and the local school council, she decided to try it.

Though the school year is only a few weeks old, Ms. Jones said she has high hopes for the change, which splits the school’s 923 students into male and female classes for everything but band and chorus. “It’s too early too tell, but teachers are already saying they’re getting more writing out of the boys,” Ms. Jones said, adding that she’s had fewer discipline problems as well.

A Work in Progress

But Ms. Jones also knows that Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits schools from discriminating on the basis of sex, discourages single-sex education in publicly financed institutions. Regulations interpreting the statute make it almost impossible for public schools to organize single-gender education, yet Ms. Jones and other principals across the country nonetheless are opting for it.

That’s because in May, the Education Department announced that it was reviewing those regulations and had plans to rewrite them to ease the strict interpretation, a move that would encourage schools to offer single-gender education.

But those regulations haven’t been rewritten yet, said the department’s general counsel, Brian W. Jones. The 60- day public-comment period has closed, but officials still must draft the proposed regulations. Mr. Jones said last week he expected the draft rules to be available for comment within the next several months.

Hold the Phone

In the meantime, the existing regulations are still in effect. Mr. Jones said that the Education Department would continue to enforce them, and that if a complaint were filed against a school over single-sex arrangements, the department would be forced to investigate.

Nancy Zirkin, the director of public policy and government relations for the Washington-based American Association of University Women, said schools should not be so eager to separate girls and boys.

“What they’re doing is totally against existing regulations,” she said of schools that have adopted such policies. “We’re very troubled by this.”

Ms. Jones of Southern Leadership Academy said she was willing to take the risk in her school.

“We’re making sure anything boys have access to, girls have access to,” the principal said. “The Bush administration supports this.”


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
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
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

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 Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
Jupiterimages/Getty
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP