New York City Department of Education Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, has gone on record as saying that he is in favor of providing more single-sex school options. Currently, the city offers 19 such schools, six of which are charter. ”I’m a big believer in single-sex schools. I’m a big believer in options,” Walcott said. “I want to expand those options. I think people should have that choice.”
But not everyone is on the same page, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the expansion of single-sex schools.
Walcott made his remarks to the editorial board of the New York Post yesterday. And on the one hand, it’s really hard to blame him. Though I’d need to hear more from him to say definitively, it sounds to me that all he’s really trying to do is deliver reforms which provide city parents more choices as they pertain to the education of their children. And in my book, more choices are a good thing.
Still, Walcott also made it clear that he’s pro single-sex schools and the NYCLU has a problem with that.
“There are issues of policy here that are of serious concern,” said NYCLU Director Donna Lieberman, who pointed to a lack of data that the schooling model works.
“In a school system that is supposed to be data-driven and that purportedly values diversity, it’s terribly disappointing to hear about plans for proliferating gender-segregated models,” she added. “It sends a terrible message to young people that our city doesn’t think that they can learn with their peers of the opposite sex.”
But others believe that such schools do, indeed, provide their children with a better education.
“[The students] don’t have to worry about the opposite sex and the competition and the peer pressure and all that it entails with the other gender being present,” said Yvonne McDowell, whose daughter, Takeisha Kamara, 17, is a senior at the Women’s Academy of Excellence. “Academically, my daughter has done very well,” said McDowell. “[The academy] had the flavor, the quality of a private school because it was a small school and a single-gender school.”
But my problem is this: the real world? It turns out that both genders are represented quite handsomely there. So, sure, it might be nice to learn in an environment where you can eliminate the complications that come along with throwing a bunch of boys and girls together in the same room, but good luck segregating the work force.
To be successful, one must learn to navigate life, itself. And the closer the education process can come to approximating that life, the better. That’s why a single sex school would never be for me, nor would it be one that I’d send my children to.
That said, I have no problem with Chancellor Walcott striving to give NYC parents more choices. In fact, I applaud it.