Racism, Equity, and Single Sex Schooling

Linda Purrington (lpurring@earthlink.net)
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 13:36:42 -0700

Susan Smith's questions regarding racism are important ones. In the long
run, we hope the United States will take its place in a world where
democracy rules. Whites are a small minority in that world, and men
constitute half, or slightly less less than half. In the shorter term,
the U.S. needs to consider that women are the democratic majority here
and now, and in many areas of the country whites are already a minority.
It is not appropriate, in a democracy, for whites and males to insist on
what has been disproportionate privilege.
It may seem appropriate and legal,--and under the intent of Title IX,
which is to be interpreted broadly, according to Congress,-- that girls,
in particular girls of color, be allowed affirmative-action type help to
make up for past exclusion. It also seems that students of color of both
genders might have the right to meet separately from whites. But that
should never be interpreted to mean that whites have the right to meet
separately, or that males have the right to meet separately, in a public
school system. [And by the way, a voucher system will kill public school
as a serious venue for education; that is, will kill it for all poor
people, who will not be able to afford the horrendous fees that private
schools cost. Single mothers are disproportionately poor, and single
mothers of color even more so; they will not be able to transport their
children out of poor neighborhood schools.]
But at the same time it is dangerous to choose segregation in any part
of the public school system, because segregation will almost certainly
be corrupted and subverted to the interests of those in power. Look at
the Senate: that means white males.
Have we proceeded far enough along the path of equity to take the next
big step: making sure that coed education works for girls at least as
well as it works for boys, as well for students of color as for white
Linda Purrington
Title IX Advocates

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