To all those snookered by the voices of privatization and feigned concern for minority students, this loud warning should put an end to the deception:
Education Week: The loud, hissing sound you hear may be the air coming out of the tires of a much-hyped vehicle for improving American public education: the single-sex classroom. This fact appears to be true even for students of color, who are often seen as those most likely to be helped by sex-segregated classrooms. Pedro A. Noguera, the director of New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, notes no research supports the notion that separating young men is the best way to meet their academic and social needs.”
Also, a new study of public schools in the Caribbean republic of Trinidad and Tobago did not find strong support for the efficacy of gender-segregated classrooms. The study found that students in all-girls schools were slightly less likely to take math or science courses. Given the fact that such courses open the door to lucrative careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields, this fact is disturbing.
Our findings, The Truth About Girls and Boys, dovetailed with those of eight prominent psychologists and neuroscientists who authored an article in the journal Science last September, titled “The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling.” They found the rationale for setting up separate classrooms for boys and girls “deeply misguided” and “often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.”
Leonard Sax, the head of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education and best-selling author of Why Gender Matters, and Michael Gurian, the author of The Wonder of Girls, repeatedly make the brain-difference argument. But that claim has been debunked in three recent and important books. In Pink Brain, Blue Brain, Lise Eliot, an associate professor in the department of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School, She concluded there is “surprisingly little evidence of sex differences in children’s brains.”
Gender-segregated classes have been promoted in best-selling books, warmly embraced by the media, praised by school officials, and endorsed by politicians.
But despite the growing scientific consensus, in our survey of media coverage of the single-sex argument, we found that most reporters accepted uncritically the theories of such people as Sax and Gurian. Reporters presented theories served up by advocates as settled science, often with no opposing point of view. And if critics were quoted, it was in a throwaway sentence or two late in the story that made them seem to be ill-informed or merely carping. For example, the book The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine, got incredible media play ... Few stories mentioned the fact that the authoritative British journal Naturesavaged the book, saying it “fails to meet even the most basic standards of scientific accuracy and balance,” is “riddled with scientific errors,” and “is misleading about the processes of brain development, the neuroendocrine system, and the nature of sex differences in general.”
So, there is a veritable mountain of evidence, growing every day, that the single-sex classroom is not a magic bullet to save American education.