Monday, October 01, 2007

Gender Apartheid creeps into our public schools

If we truly believe in equality, then there is is no reason for this program taking root in South Carolina's public schools, and there's no excuse for this supposed news story from the Associated Press. The ironic thing is that the same media outlets that decry the shameful persistence of racial segregation in places like Jena have no problem spouting propaganda like this for the equally shameful resurgence of sex discrimination in America's schools. Oh, but it's new, improved sex discrimination made to look like educational and social theory!

S.C. pioneers in single-gender classes

By SEANNA ADCOX, Associated Press Writer

David Chadwell believes boys and girls can get through the awkward middle school years better when they're separated, learning in classrooms tailored to the learning styles of each gender.

As the country's first and only statewide coordinator of single-gender education, Chadwell is helping to make South Carolina a leader among public schools that offer such programs. About 70 schools offer the program now, and the goal is to have programs available to every child within five years, he said.

"Pioneers"? "Helping to make South Carolina a leader among public schools"? Where is the supposed journalistic objectivity? And the last time I drove down to Florida, South Carolina still looked to me like a state, not a public school. Where are the editors?!

The theory is that by separating girls and boys — especially during middle school years typically marked by burgeoning hormones, self doubt and peer pressure — lessons can be more effective because they are in unique classroom settings.

"Burgeoning hormones"? Did I mention that we need an editor over here?

For example, Chadwell explains, research shows boys don't hear as well as girls, so teachers of all-boys classes often use microphones.


And because boys' attention spans tend to wander, incorporating movement in a lesson, like throwing a ball to a student when he's chosen to answer a question, can keep them focused.

A little waterboarding might help to focus their daydreaming little minds also, but that doesn't mean ...

In one recent boys' class, a group of gangly seventh-graders sprawled on the floor around a giant vinyl chart, using skateboard parts and measuring tape to learn pre-algebra. In a different school a few miles away, middle school girls interviewed each other, then turned their surveys about who's shy and who has dogs into fractions, decimals and percentages. Classical music played softly in the background.

And the plaintive call-to-prayer of the muezzin echoed eerily in the distance. Don't get too attached to that dog of yours, wallflower.

Teachers in all-girls classes say they've learned to speak more softly, because their students can take yelling more personally than boys.

In the boys' class, they just yell all the time, for no reason. Especially during a good waterboarding.

And the educators gear their lessons to what students like: assigning action novels for boys to read or allowing girls to evaluate cosmetics for science projects.

No way. She did not write that and publish it in the Associated Press, and all with a straight face. We don't need an editor, we need someone from Human Resources.

I can't go on. If you're masochistic enough, read the whole thing. The only interesting points in the remainder of the article are that this is partly Bush's fault (shoulda known) since the No Child Left Behind Act mandated streamlining the process toward realizing gender Apartheid. And the reporter got around to writing five sentences conveying the misgivings of one rather mild critic of the program. At the end of the article, the AP shills the website of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, an advocacy group whose potential usefulness has not been lost on our nation's fifth-column Islamists. If you don't believe me, read it here (middle of page 2) and here.

In 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Obviously, the context of this statement was race, not sex, but if the same rules do not apply, I'd like to hear why. Facile generalizations about boys' hearing or attention spans will not be entertained, however. The society you will face as an adult will not usher the opposite sex out of the room to accomodate your supposed weaknesses, so don't get comfortable behind that "No Girls Allowed" sign. And girls! Good grief, where are the feminists?

Separate is inherently unequal. That's why they have that little curtain between coach and business class. That's why there's a children's table at Thanksgiving dinner. That's why we have a border with Mexico. But division--and the differences that division inevitably generates--have no place in public education.

Meghan O'Rourke at Slate did a pointed critique in 2006 of the faulty reasoning behind the renewed push for gender segregation. It highlights the various flaws in the arguments of people like Chadwell and his fellow travelers at NASSPE, though it doesn't address the greater question: Why is the so-called progressive left in America (whether in public policy or the media) so consistently willing to embrace terrible ideas in the name of creating a better society? (Think "eugenics" ... "midnight basketball" ... "Jeneane Garofalo" ...)