Educational Editorial: Rethinking single-sex education

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Education Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Delegate Chris Peace recently introduced legislation - House Bill #1942 - that clarified how a school board may establish a single-sex class or school.

While flying through the House and Senate, this bill amended the code of Virginia to require school boards to create single-sex programs only when they're voluntary and where they have provided "substantially equal coeducational classes in their schools."

Delegate Peace knows first-hand the advantages of a single-sex school. Many of the private institutions in the area have long based their admission, in part, on this environment

A recent poll by the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute, however, revealed that 65 percent of Virginians are against schools for just boys or girls.

The overwhelming opposition is equally interesting in light of the reality that 70 percent of the homes in Virginia do not have school-age children.

The National Association for Single-Sex Public Education stresses that boys and girls learn differently.

They also note that socialization factors and competition are different when boys and girls are grouped separately. Boys take more art and music and girls take more math and science.

The opportunities for leadership are amplified and the "distractions" of being noticed are diminished.

Many Virginians, young and old, believe that schools should stay the way they are - coeducational. But there's a growing interest in shaping schools differently.

Studies indicate that there is little variance in the performance or interest of young people until they reach middle school. Then students begin to act out the expectations - or stereotypes - that we create.

Perhaps Virginians should look at single-sex education as simply another choice that might be used to address the needs of young people, realizing as well that General Assembly has declared that you must always have more than one option.

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