"Should Public Schools Offer Single-Sex Education?"

Summary and reflection on "Should Public Schools Offer Single-Sex Education?"...

“Should Public Schools Offer Single-Sex Education?”           

          As someone who attended only co-ed public schools for thirteen years, I have absolutely no firsthand experience learning in single-sex schools/classrooms, whether public or private.  Up until about a year ago, I had never even taken the time to investigate the topic of single-sex schooling.  But last spring, in the end of my undergraduate career, I took a class called “Sociology of Education”, for which the topic of my term paper was the debate over whether single-sex schooling was positive or negative.  In searching for an article to summarize and reflect upon in my portfolio, I decided it might be a good time to follow up on last year’s topic of same-sex education.

          The second article I chose to read is an article written by Kim Gandy and Kathy Piechura-Couture, called “Should Public Schools Offer Single-Sex Education?”.  The article opens up with the interesting and attention-catching statement that "The number of single-sex classrooms in public schools is growing; there are now more than 400" (Gandy and Piechura-Couture, 2009).  This statement leads into an overview of several reasons for and against single-sex classrooms in public schools.

          The side that is in favor of single-sex education provides many valid and factual reasons for which single-sex education is a good thing.  They discuss the idea that for more than a century, single-sex education has been widely available in private schools, and now it is time to make single-sex education an option offered regularly in public schools as well. Researchers have found differences in the way boys and girls learn, whether they are biological or developmental.  These are issues that can be addressed and supported through the offering of single-sex education; even in the schools funded by the tax payers (a.k.a. Public schools).  The author states that "For example, in general, boys respond better to a more active teaching style.  Girls tend to be more cautious about participating in discussions" (Gandy and Piechura-Couture, 2009).  The author goes on to discuss the results of a study she has been doing in a Florida elementary school, regarding the effectiveness of single-sex classrooms.  In this discussion, she describes differing/increased test results, increased self-esteem, and the new and varying interests of students who were learning in single-sex classrooms.

          Like the side that is in favor of single-sex education, the side that is against single-sex education provides many valid and factual reasons to support their stance on the topic.  First, this side mentions that by creating single-sex classrooms, we are violating the Constitution as well as federal and state laws demanding that equal educational opportunities are offered to all public school students.  The author also mentions the court case, Brown v. Board of Education which although it was about racial segregation, holds true for gender segregation as well.  This side also believes that single-sex classrooms “reinforce gender stereotypes, like the idea that boys are assertive and outspoken, while girls are timid and quiet.

          Ultimately, I found both sides to be very interesting, persuasive, and educational.  However, I am not personally for or against single-sex classrooms in public or private schools, rather I think it depends solely on what best suits each individual child. And once children reach an age where they are mentally able to make decisions regarding their own education, I believe the choice should be left to them whether they attend single-sex, co-ed, public, or private school, etc.  Finally, from reading this article, I found that the side in favor of single-sex education is highly concerned with the educational aspects, whereas the side against single-sex education is concerned more so with the social and emotional aspects.


Piechura-Couture, K., & Gandy, K.. (2009, October). SHOULD PUBLIC SCHOOLS OFFER SINGLE-SEX EDUCATION? New York Times Upfront, 142(3), 21.  Retrieved April 28, 2010, from Children's Module. (Document ID: 1894102421).