Separate but Equal

The Cleveland Public Schools started school last week. New this year are four new single-gender schools: two for girls, and two for boys. All four schools serve grades K-2. The district is promoting the new schools as a way to “help students build confidence, try new things and develop a sense of belonging. ”

studentsWKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reported on the new schools on Thursday. They’re tailoring the curriculum to the boys. Boys don’t like to sing, so they’re adapting the way they’re teaching music. Girls don’t particpate as much in physical education, so that subject is being tailored to meet their needs. By focusing on the needs of only one gender, the schools hope to provide a better, more suited environment for them.

This scares me.

Girls think math is hard, so we’ll dumb it down for them. They don’t need as much science as the boys do, either. Girls should study more poetry, and take home economics. Typing. They definitely need typing. They’ll really impress the boss with their efficiency someday.

The boys need to know how to be leaders, to make decisions, to compete. They have to understand politics. Physics, calculus. Those are important too. They probably don’t need so much training in arts and culture.

It’s amazing to me that we’re heading in this direction, after resolving essentially the same issue more than forty years ago. The last twenty years have seen a move toward inclusive education, where students are not separated based on learning ability. It’s amazing to me that we would separate boys and girls because they learn better separately, and yet keep a kid with an IQ of 80 and another kid with an IQ of 120 in the same classroom because they learn better in a heterogeneous environment with their peers.

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