Staff editorial: Taking choice away

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Editorial Board

This fall, at least 10 more single-sex public schools were established across the United States. And in the past eight years, the number of public schools offering some form of single-sex classes has risen from four to 140. But while advocates for single-sex education say there are fewer distractions and peer pressures in all-male or all-female classrooms, opponents say segregation of any kind is wrong.

National and international studies have revealed that in certain conditions, students learn better when they are separated by gender, but we question the validity of the results when scrutinizing the backgrounds of students involved in the studies. Do the results come primarily from private schools, where parents are more likely to provide better opportunities and care for their children outside the classroom? And what if a study revealed that students learned better in single-race classes? Would we consider public funding for all-white or all-black schools?

In truth, the debate is not about whether single-sex education is beneficial. In all fairness, if parents wish to enroll their children in single-sex private schools they have that right. What we disagree with is public funding for single-sex schools.

Basically, it’s a matter of choice. If single-sex schools are publicly funded, a slippery slope might develop. Same-sex public schools could complicate and limit the educational choices of students. At the moment, the majority of Americans are not complaining that their taxes go toward co-ed public schools. But what if parents suddenly discovered the closest public school was now single-sex? Should they be forced to bus their child across town to attend the nearest co-ed school?

Finally, what about a student who is unsure about his or her sexual identity? What school would he or she attend, and should government bear the burden of making that choice?

To offer different options, any given school district would need at least three schools – an all-male, all-female and co-ed institution. There are many problems that would arise in this situation. What about school districts with only one or two schools? What if the enrollment numbers are not distributed evenly? What about taxpayers who are against same-sex classrooms? How will these issues be resolved?

Ultimately, by funding same-sex public schools, our government has approved their creation without taking into consideration taxpayers and parents who might not want them. Currently, private funding for same-sex schools gives students a choice. Public funding, however, takes that choice away.