Last week, the ACLU sent letters to superintendents of three county school systems in West Virginia (Cabell, Kanawha, Wood) telling them stop holding separate classes for boys and girls.
West Virginia ACLU executive director Green told Metronews, “These types of programs really mislead children and parents, and they really make it difficult for them to be prepared for the real world.”
The ACLU is threatening legal against West Virginia and as many as a dozen other states unless they stop segregating boys and girls into single-sex classrooms.
I wonder what the West Virginia superintendents thought when they got the letter from the ACLU? Maybe they added it to a file that must be marked, “damned if they do and dammed if they don’t.”
Single-sex education has expanded dramatically in the public schools in recent years, based largely on a growing body of research that shows boys and girls—brace yourself here–are different. As such, they may learn differently.
Additionally, many teachers and administrators find that separating the sexes in classrooms eases sexual tensions and makes boys and girls more willing to participate in class without potential ridicule from the opposite sex.
Granted, the research on the results is mixed. In fact, the American Council for Co-Educational Schooling issued a report last year claiming sex-segregated education is justified by cherry-picking or misconstruing the research.
The ACLU takes its criticism a step farther, claiming that segregating the sexes in school only perpetuates sex stereotypes.
Now we’re getting to the heart of the issue—the seemingly tireless pursuit of political correctness.
Here’s the real problem in West Virginia public schools: students are underperforming in many areas compared with their peers nationally. Meanwhile, students across the country are underperforming compared with other industrialized nations.
Some dedicated and desperate educators are trying—as best they can, given the onerous bureaucracy of public education—to break the antiquated molds to see if they can better prepare students for the future. If teachers and school administers believe that, in certain instances, gender-specific classes help students learn, then please leave them alone and let them try.
Certainly sexual stereotypes still exist in the United States. Many are reinforced by the popular culture. However, it’s hard to imagine that, for example, middle school girls come out of a single-sex math class with some clichéd view of their sexual identity.
The ACLU identifies itself as a defender of rights and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and in law. Article XII of the West Virginia Constitution provides for a “thorough and efficient system of free schools.”
If the ACLU wants to tackle more significant issue it could challenge whether the state is meeting that critical Constitutional obligation, rather than fretting over the inconsequentiality of single-sex classes.