Opening Statement - Karen Humphrey
April 20, 1998 9:31 AM EST

The California Single Gender Academies Pilot Project was initiated by Governor
Pete Wilson and established by the California legislature during the 1996-97
budget deliberations. During the budget discussions, a bill establishing the
program was passed and $5,000,000 was allocated for up to 10 start-up grants
of $500,000 apiece. Following the normal process in California, the
implementation and administration of the program were assigned to the
California Department of Education (CDE). [NOTE: The CDE is headed by the
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an independently-elected
nonpartisan statewide official; one of its major roles is to administer
policies and programs established by the legislature and the State Board of
Election, whose members are appointed by the Governor.]

Following a process to develop a Request for Applications and establish legal
guidelines, an invitation was sent to California school districts and county
offices of education which operate middle and/or high schools to make grant
proposals. Included was an extensive CDE legal memorandum; it concluded that
academies created by the program must provide programs for BOTH boys and girls
that 1) are "substantially equivalent in terms of funding, facilities, level
and training of staff, equipment and instructional materials, curriculum, and
extracurricular opportunities, and 2) "provide the full range of curriculum and
extra-curriculum options and are not single-gender classes or programs." The
academies were required to be totally voluntary, and proposals were to identify
the "unique educational need" which the program would address and how it would
do so.

Only nine local educational agencies submitted proposals by the June, 1997
deadline. Initial review eliminated two proposals and one withdrew. After a
period of working with the remaining applicants to make technical adjustments
in the proposals, all six were eventually funded for a total allocation of
$3,000,000. Three of the programs began operation in late August and early
September, 1997; by January 1998, all six were in full operation. They are
required under the grant to operate through the 1998-99 school year, and will
then have an additional six months to submit reports to the legislature on the
results of their self-evaluations.

The programs currently operate in Butte Valley Unified School District, a
small rural district near the Oregon border in northeast California; Lincoln
Unified School District in Stockton; San Francisco Unified School District;
Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto; East Side Union High School
District in San Jose; and the Orange County Office of Education. The East
Side program is for grades 9 and 10; Orange County provides academies for
mixed grades 7-12 in an alternative school program; the other 4 programs serve
middle school students. The smallest program is a total of 60 students in
both academies; the largest is 180 students. While all the programs target
students who are not performing to the full extent of their abilities
academically, the academies are open to any student in the agency's

At this point, the programs report that they are doing well, although all
experienced some early logistical problems with staffing and facilities that
are not uncommon in new programs. Several are now full or nearly full; all
anticipate being fully enrolled in the 1998-99 school year. Many of the
program directors report improved self-esteem and behavior among students;
some report apparent improvements in academic performance, although no
standardized test results are yet available. Anecdotal information indicates
that students and parents seem generally satisfied with the programs. No
lawsuits have been filed against any of the academies, nor to our knowledge
are any lawsuits pending.

The state legislature did not initially provide funding for a comprehensive
statewide evaluation; however, the governor has proposed to do so in his
1998-99 budget; he also proposes providing second-year grants to the existing
programs at a somewhat reduced level (they are to be self-supporting by the
third year) and has also proposed funding for an additional six pairs of
academies. All of all these proposals is still pending in the state
legislature and will probably not be finally decided until mid-June or later.

Some information about the program is available on the California Department
of Education website at; we hope to
add more material soon.

Karen Humphrey

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