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Single-sex education is on the rise

Classes at an Alabama middle school come under fire by ACLU.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Dec 10, 2012 11:00PM

In the mid-1990s, there were only two single-sex public schools in the U.S. Today, there are more than 500 public schools in 40 states that offer some single-sex academic classes or, more rarely, are entirely single sex, reports The New York Times.

Photo: Thinkstock/Getty ImagesThe topic of single-sex education is a controversial one as educators argue whether forcing students into a single-sex environment boosts academic success.

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Recently, single-sex programs at Huffman Middle School in Birmingham, Ala., as well as at another district in Idaho have come under fire by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), reports AL.com. Complaints filed by the nonpartisan non-profit organization with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights say such programs draw on gender stereotypes, such as men are active and independent while women are passive and dependent, and deprive students of equal educational opportunities.

"We understand that teachers and parents want to provide the best education for their children. But coeducation was never the problem with failing schools, and single-sex programs are not the answer," Christina Brandt-Young, attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project was quoted. "These programs are poorly designed and based on pseudoscience and stereotypes that do nothing to enhance learning, and only reinforce discredited ideas about how boys and girls behave."

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In a September 2011 article in Science, titled “The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling,” authors argue that “sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.” The article, written by eight social scientists who founded the nonprofit American Council for CoEducational School, goes onto assert, “Boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive. Similarly, girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed.”

Do boys and girls learn differently? Do same-sex classrooms create a better learning environment for students? Why or why not?

Photo: Thinkstock/Getty Images

Bing: The pros and cons of single-sex schools

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