The Atlantic, October 4 2013
The ACLU campaign against parental choice
Since August 2012, the ACLU has mounted a nationwide campaign to intimidate public schools which dare to offer parents
a choice of single-gender or coed classrooms. In this article, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers shows that the ACLU's campaign is
not based on science, as the ACLU claims, but in bias. Unfortunately, as Dr. Sommers also shows, many districts have allowed themselves
to be intimidated. As a result, districts have shut down successful single-gender programs, even though federal law and regulation are clearly on the side of
districts which offer parents the choice of single-gender classrooms.
A debate on single-gender education
On August 28 2013, a debate took place between Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers and Dr. Lise Eliot.
Dr. Eliot was one of the co-authors of the notorious 2011 opinion piece in SCIENCE magazine which attacked
single-gender education. You can watch streaming video of the debate at this link.
Dr. Eliot insisted that single-gender environments always and inevitably promote stereotypes.
Dr. Sommers pointed out that if that were really true, then we should outlaw the Girl Scouts.
Dr. Sommers asked Dr. Eliot whether Dr. Eliot favors eliminating the Girl Scouts as an all-girls organization.
It's worth watching the video just to see that exchange, at about 62 minutes into the program.
Tampa Tribune, August 11 2013
Single-gender public schools: "Grades are soaring"
Tampa public schools launched a girls' public school and boys' public school. No extra funding, no different class sizes.
But the teachers had extensive training in best practice for single-gender classrooms, in advance (for example, the district sent 60 teachers to our
2011 NASSPE conference). The results:
"soaring school grades . . . discipline reports are down and attendance is up.
The achievement gap between minority and white students has narrowed,
and those who speak English as a second language have made gains. . .leapfrogging up the grading chart."
Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2012
Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Barbara Mikulski
endorse single-gender choice in public schools
Bipartisan action from members of the United States Senate is rare these days on any matter more controversial than apple pie.
But Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, joined with Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland,
to write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of single-gender education in American public schools
and the importance of offering this option more widely. The Senators conclude:
"As we seek ways to offer the best education for all our children, in ways that are better tailored to their needs,
it seems not just counterproductive but damaging to reduce the options.
Single-sex education in public schools will continue to be a voluntary choice for students and their families. To limit or eliminate single-sex education is irresponsible.
To take single-sex education away from students who stand to benefit is unforgivable."
Opponents of choice in public schools invent false stories to support their claims
In 2012, the ACLU launched a national campaign to intimidate school districts which offer parents a choice of single-gender
or coed classrooms. The campaign prompted a flurry of commentaries in TIME, Gather.com, The New Yorker, and The Huffington Post,
all in support of the ACLU. We were struck by the way in which the ACLU's wildly-inaccurate statements about single-gender education
were repeated by all the national media outlets without any fact-checking.
For example, consider a commentary by Adam Cohen, a graduate of Harvard Law School who is now a Thomson Reuters Fellow at Yale Law School.
In his commentary for TIME.com, the distinguished Mr. Cohen informs the reader that NASSPE recommends spanking boys in the classroom.
Who knew? In fact, neither Dr. Sax nor any member of the NASSPE Advisory Board has ever recommended spanking boys in the classroom.
No speaker at a NASSPE conference has ever recommended spanking for boys (Mr. Cohen has never attended a NASSPE conference).
Mr. Cohen cites
a page on the ACLU's web site which claims - without any evidence - that NASSPE recommends spanking boys.
The distinguished Mr. Cohen accepted the ACLU's claim as fact, without ever checking with us or with anybody else.
Did we mention that Mr. Cohen teaches law at Yale Law school?
So the ACLU claims that we recommend spanking boys.
The ACLU also claims that we recommend teaching girls algebra by having them make wedding dresses.
Both claims are false. (How exactly would you teach algebra by having kids make wedding dresses? We have no idea.)
But nothing's to stop the ACLU from saying anything they want to say on their web site, and nothing prevents Mr. Cohen from repeating it.
When a reporter calls to ask us about single-gender classrooms or single-gender schools, we often have to waste a good deal of time
overcoming the reporter's skepticism. The reporter is convinced that we endorse spanking boys in the classroom.
After all, a distinguished member of the faculty at Yale Law School says that we endorse spanking for boys;
it says so at TIME.com. So it must be true.
But it's not.
Debate between Dr. Sax and Professor Hyde, October 13 2011
Dr. Leonard Sax did a live studio debate with Dr. Janet Hyde, professor at the University of Wisconsin and one of the authors of the
opinion piece published in SCIENCE magazine attacking single-sex schools,
on WHYY's "Radio Times" with Marti Moss-Coane.
WHYY is the NPR affiliate station for Philadelphia and southern New Jersey.
The topic was whether girls' schools and boys' schools should be permitted in the public sector.
Dr. Sax argued that parents should be permitted this choice if a public school district sees fit to offer it.
Professor Hyde argued that parents should not be permitted this choice, even if the school district wants to offer it
and some parents prefer it. Professor Hyde insisted that she knew better than any school district or any parent,
what is best for every child. You can listen to streaming audio of the debate (45 minutes)
The woman who screens the calls for WHYY told Dr. Sax afterward that
"all" the callers disagreed with Dr. Hyde.
"Dr. Hyde, what makes you so sure that you know better than I do, what is best for my child?" - was the recurrent
refrain among the callers. Weirdest moment: when Dr. Hyde accused Dr. Sax, on the air,
of taking a sabbatical from medical practice
in order to make big bucks promoting girls' public schools.
Dr. Sax had to break the unhappy news to her: there is no money in promoting girls' public schools, or boys' public schools.
(Dr. Sax has since returned to full-time medical practice.)
Sex Roles, November 2011
Girls attending girls' schools develop better spatial skills;
girls attending coed schools do NOT
Three German researchers recently tested spatial rotation skills of girls
and boys at girls' schools, boys' schools, and coed schools.
At 8th grade, there was no difference between girls at girls' schools and girls at coed schools.
But at 12th grade, the girls at the girls' schools did much better than the girls at the coed schools.
The 12th-grade girls at coed schools did no better than the 8th-grade girls at coed schools
(actually they did slightly worse), but the 12th-grade girls at the girls' schools did much better
than the 8th-grade girls at the girls' schools.
Many people have assumed that some element of the female-male difference in spatial rotation is hardwired;
but maybe it's not, if school format (single-sex vs. coed) can make such a big difference.
This study raises lots of interesting questions.
The full reference is Corinna Titze, Petra Jansen, and Martin Heil,
"Single-sex school girls outperform girls attending a co-educative school in mental rotation accuracy," Sex Roles November 2011, online at
USA Today, October 13, 2011
SCIENCE article is biased and inaccurate.
In September 2011, the prestigious magazine SCIENCE published a commentary co-authored by eight professors.
The eight professors argued that American parents should not be allowed to choose single-gender classrooms in public schools.
In this op-ed, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers points out some of the logical flaws in the commentary published in SCIENCE.
Columbus Local News, August 24 2010
District opens doors to rare single-gender middle schools. This article describes
the launch of a new girls' public school and a new boys' public school in the Columbus (Ohio) public school system. Dr. Leonard Sax, director of NASSPE,
led a teacher-training workshop for teachers at both schools in August 2010, shortly before the schools opened their doors.
Washington Post, August 8 2010
Separate but equal: more schools are dividing students by gender. This lengthy feature article
in the Washington Post magazine describes Imagine Southeast Public Charter School, an elementary school serving a low-income neighborhood which offers single-sex classrooms for core subjects for students
in grades 1 through 5. Dr. Leonard Sax, director of NASSPE, recently led a workshop for teachers at this school, as well as a 2-day workshop
for teachers at the Imagine Academy of Academic Success, another school in the Imagine family of public charter schools.
Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota), August 17 2009
Single-gender education to close gender gaps in achievement
Tom Mealey and colleagues at Carvel Elementary School in Maplewood (near St. Paul) have recently launched single-gender classrooms, in part in order to boost boys' motivation and achievement
in reading and language arts. Early reports are positive. Dixie Gardner, whose son Blake is in the all-boys class, has noticed a big difference. Blake didn't like reading much in the coed kindergarten but he loves it now,
and he even picked out a stack of books to read over summer vacation. "He comes home every day, and if someone asks him how school was, he always says, 'It's awesome,' " Gardner said. "He just loves it."
Tulsa World, June 12, 2009
Explaining single-gender education to parents.
In June 2009, Dr. Leonard Sax, director of NASSPE, led a two-day workshop for Tulsa Public Schools on best practice for single-gender classrooms.
He also spoke to parents in Tulsa the evening of June 12, 2009, answering questions such as: "Isn't single-sex education just another form of segregation? And, given that the real world is a coed world,
shouldn't school be coed, in order to prepare kids for the real world? Dr. Sax's presentation was covered in the local newspaper.
Rome Reports, April 28, 2009
International Conference in Rome: Single-gender public education
In April 2009, the European Association for Single-Sex Education (EASSE) convened their second international conference in Rome, Italy.
The conference attracted hundreds of educators, from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and from across Eastern Europe as well. This video and the accompanying article
provides an overview of the Rome conference.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 19, 2009
Dividing Girls, Boys, Grows Exponentially
This front-page article describes the same-sex program at Carman Trails Elementary, a public elementary school in St. Louis.
In 2007, Dr. Chris Raeker, principal of Carman Trails Elementary in St. Louis, sent a team of teachers to attend a two-day workshop
led by Dr. Leonard Sax on best practice for
single-gender classrooms. In 2008, Dr. Raeker sent another team of teachers to another two-day workshop Dr. Sax co-hosted with Stetson University in Florida.
Dr. Raeker notified us by phone in March 2009 that the BOYS in particular are thriving in the all-boys setting. The change in attitude for some of the boys has been really dramatic, she said.
Some of these boys have gone from hating school to loving school. The success of this program led the TODAY show to do a segment on the school. You can
watch streaming video of the TODAY show segment at this link.
Commercial Appeal (Memphis' daily newspaper), December 12, 2008
Scores improve if boys and girls are apart, some schools find. This front-page article reports on five Memphis public schools
which have adopted single-sex classrooms, with a focus on Booker T. Washington High School. Alisha Kiner, principal at Washington High, shared her findings as a presenter at
NASSPE's Fourth International Conference, in October 2008.
Psychology Today, October 18, 2008
In this contribution to Psychology Today, Florida State University Dr. Roy Baumeister asks, Do we need single-sex public schools?
His answer: some kids do, other kids don't. So why not make them more widely available -- especially in a country like the USA, which has more than 90,000 public schools? [Editor's note: Professor Baumeister was a keynote
speaker at the 2008 NASSPE conference in Memphis, Tennessee. This article includes his reflections on our conference.]
The Times (London, UK)
Girls' schools offer some unique benefits. In this article in the UK's premier newspaper of record, Vicky Tuck, speaking to the Girls' Schools Conference
in England, pointed out that the advantages of all-girls education are not limited to strictly academic benefits. She observed that the all-girls format offers a shelter from the storm of "Botox and bingeing [binge-drinking]." She adds:
""I have a hunch that in 50 years time, or maybe only 25, people will be doubled up with laughter when they watch documentaries about the history of education and discover that people once thought it was a good idea to educate adolescent boys and girls together."
Education Week, May 7, 2008
Single-sex education gets new showcase.
This feature article highlights the leading role which South Carolina is playing in the growing popularity of single-sex
public education, with particular emphasis on the benefits of the gender-separate format for low-income African-American students.
Be sure to check out the map of the United States showing which states have how many schools offering single-gender schools.
New York Times, March 2, 2008
Teaching Girls and Boys Separately. This lengthy story for the cover of the New York Times Sunday magazine
is a major disappointment, with many distortions and misrepresentations. Click here to read Dr. Sax's detailed
rebuttal of the New York Times article.
Chicago Tribune, November 18, 2006
in the Chicago Tribune endorses single-sex public education, correctly observing that the key is choice.
Expand the range of choices available to parents within the public schools.
Daytona-Beach News-Journal, November 17, 2006
leads the nation. The extraordinary success of the single-sex program at Woodward Avenue Elementary School has made headlines in the national media (including USA Today,
People and Newsweek magazine, as well as an October 2006 feature on the CBS Evening News). Here's the latest
news from Woodward Avenue Elementary.
Vancouver Sun, November 16, 2006
Good news from British Columbia. As a rule, we focus on news from the United States. But this story
from north of the border could not be ignored. Note: this article has also appeared in The Province
and The Toronto Star.
Boston Globe, October 29, 2006.
All-boys education. Lorraine Garnett Ward was a dean at Wellesley College for twenty years. For the past six years,
she has been chair of the English department at an all-boys school. Now taking a leave of absence in order to battle breast
cancer, Ms. Ward reflects on all-boys education.
US News & World Report, October 27, 2006
Are single-sex classes legal?
This story illustrates some of the opportunities lost by the four-year delay in the release of the new regulations.
USA Today, August 17, 2006:
USA Today endorses single-sex public education
. In this editorial, USA Today highlights the success of Woodward Avenue Elementary School in DeLand, Florida.
The USA Today editorial emphasizes that single-sex education can benefit both girls and boys, provided
that teachers have appropriate training. We agree!
New York Times, Sunday June 11 2006:
The Gender Gap at School.
New York Times columnist David Brooks has some interesting things to say about the growing gender gapa
in academic performance. He suggests that perhaps a more differentiated curriculum might help to engage
both girls and boys in reading.
Associated Press, June 9 2006:
Single-sex classrooms gaining in popularity.
This Associated Press report -- describing the growing popularity of single-sex classrooms in public schools -- appeared in
more than fifty newspapers around the United States. The article describes the success of one such program at
Martin Luther King Middle School in Atlanta, then goes on to describe other success stories from Florida and from
Dayton Daily News, July 28, 2005: Expert says girls and boys see differently. Dayton Public Schools (Dayton, Ohio) invited NASSPE director Dr. Leonard Sax
to come to Dayton to train teachers in best practices for single-sex classrooms, in preparation for that district opening an all-girls school in August 2005 and an all-boys school in August 2006. These schools will be
neighborhood public schools, not charter schools.
Education Week, March 2, 2005: The Promise and the Peril of Single-Sex PUBLIC Education: NASSPE Director Leonard Sax observes that it's not sufficient
just to put all the girls in one classroom and all the boys in another. " Putting a teacher in a single-sex classroom for which she is not suited by temperament or training may be a recipe for failure," he writes.
The key to success in single-sex education is appropriate professional development.
Washington Post, January 8, 2005: Maryland school gets better results with single-gender: This article about single-gender classes in a public school in suburban Maryland has an interesting twist: one of the teachers for the all-boys classes is an ardent feminist who initially opposed the idea. But her experience leading an all-boys classroom changed her mind. Here’s the
Palm Beach Post, January 2, 2005: "Hands up, mischief down: single-sex classes flourish" : this front-page article documents the great success of single-gender classrooms in a public school in Boynton Beach: better academic performance, fewer discipline referrals. Here’s the
In March 2004, the United States Department of Education proposed new regulations governing single-sex public education in the United States. Many newspaper articles followed.
We've archived three of these articles:
From the Los Angeles Times: Can Separate Be Equal?
Single-sex classrooms open in Las Vegas
New single-gender opportunities in South Florida
Washington Times endorses single-sex education
In an editorial September 14 2003, the Washington Times strongly
endorsed single-sex education in public schools. The Times observed
that gender-separate classrooms broadens educational horizons
and improves academic performance. The editorial also reported
how speakers at NASSPE's inaugural conference in August 2003 described the transforming
power of single-gender education to turn kids' lives around.
New Gender Gap
Several articles have focussed on the growing gap between
the performance of girls and boys in North American public schools.
In this column,Jen
Horsey documents the acceleration of this trend. In an even more provocative essay, columnist
Peg Wente writes about the "complete reversal" in
higher education over the past 25 years, such that females now
substantially outnumber males in college, in law school and
in medical school.
the Boys Are
Globe and Mail reporter Ingrid Peritz wrote this fascinating
article about a public high school in downtown Montreal where
"division of the sexes is credited with helping turn a
faltering inner-city high school into an educational success
The Odd Couple
An essay published in The Women's Quarterly, exploring the unique
alliance between conservative Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), an alliance which
resulted in the amendment "legalizing" single-sex
education in public schools.