Re2: Parts II & III - Deborah Brake's

Deborah Brake (
Wed, 22 Apr 1998 13:30:07 -0700

H Furbrow wrote:
> > Historically, single-sex education has often hurt girls
> > and women, by depriving them of educational opportunities
> >critical to their advancement in society. Even where
> >parallel programs have been established for girls,
> >they have tended to be distinctly unequal, with
> >fewer resources and inferior offerings.
> Tell this to the graduates of the Girl's High School of Philadelphia, a
> college prep school with a 100 year tradition which has spawned more
> female doctors, lawyers (including many prominent judges), and engineers
> than any other school in the state, on par with its brother school,
> Central High, which has been forced open to girls. All of your talk of
> "elimininating harmful stereotypes" by breaking these perceived gender
> barriers makes perfect sense if you buy into the idea of women as
> universal helpless victims, which I do not.
> > There is not now, and never has been, a level playing
> >field for girls and women in education. Equality did
> >not exist in 1972 when Title IX was enacted, and while
> >many improvements have been made since that time, >much
> is left to accomplish before real equity is >achieved.
> Nearly 63% of bachellors degrees awarded to African-Americans went to
> women. In the early 1990's, college attendance fell for blac men, but
> rose for black women.
> Again, 55% to 60% of undergraduate and masters degrees are now going to
> women.
> How do you define real equity? 100%?
> >Particularly with respect to boys, the benefits of >single-sexeducation
> claimed by some of its proponents
> >have not been demonstrated. The Office of Educational
> >Research and Improvement of the U.S. Department of
> >Education (OERI), after canvassing the research, reported
> >that "Results of the studies are inconclusive as to
> >whether one type of school [i.e., single-sex or coed]
> >is more effective in promoting higher academic achievement
> >and psychosocial development." OERI did note, however,
> >that several studies indicate that girls enrolled in
> >single-sex schools perform better on a variety of
> >measures than their peers in coeducational schools;
> >that boys may perform better in coeducational settings;
> >and that other studies that appear to find different
> >outcomes for boys in single-sex Catholic high schools
> >can be explained by differences in family background >and
> initial ability. Single-Sex Schooling: Perspectives >From
> Practice and Research, Vol. I, U.S. Department
> >of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement
> >(Dec. 1993), at 17-18. See also Issues Involving Single >Gender
> Schools and Programs, General Accounting Office
> >(May 1996), at 4-5.
> So basically, if single-sex schooling is found to benefit females in
> specific cases, its perfectly OK. But if it is found to benefit boys in
> specific cases, it's wrong and it can be "explained" away.
> >Some have advocated special programs for inner-city
> >male youths to enhance their educational opportunities,
> >but the educational crisis confronting disadvantaged
> >communities is gender-neutral.
> I didn't come here to be unfriendly, but I have to say that the above is
> patently false. Dropout rates, suicide rates, and addiction have always
> hit males harder [especially in "disadvantaged communities"], and are on
> the increase for black males, and on the decrease for black females.
> Check with the MMWR at the HHS website.
> >Indeed, a number of experts in the Garrett case testified
> >that sex segregation in the public schools is
> >counterproductive for African-American boys, for
> >whom it can create an expectation of privilege based
> >on gender.
> This is opinion disguised as fact. If you really believed it in
> principle, there would be no programs specifically aimed at girls.
> >vigorous outreach efforts to increase the diversity
> >of teachers (and, in particular to increase the
> >numbers of male teachers and people of color);
> Now here we agree 100%. But can you tell me of a single federal program
> designed to increase the number of male teachers? There are none.
> >Underlying both constitutional and statutory law is a
> >recognition that it is critical to guard against gender
> >classifications that create unfair barriers to advancement
> >for talented individuals and that serve to perpetuate
> >the inferiority of women.
> >
> So you're saying that Title IX was designed to be gender specific? Now
> that women dominate in academia and lead in the number of college
> degrees, how do we justify the expansion of Title IX programs?
> >At the same time, neither the Constitution nor Title IX
> >prohibits all public single-sex education, let alone all
> >single-sex education.
> >
> But you ae saying that it must be interpreted so that all male single
> sex education is wrong. I infer this from your singular lack of
> endorsement of any referred to male programs, while you justify female
> programs in general.

I take it you are unfamiliar with the lawsuit that was brought in the
mid-1980s by a young woman who sought to be admitted to Philadelphia's
exclusive magnet school for boys. Philadelphia of course argued that
the single-sex magnet schools were separate but equal, and sought to
keep the young woman out of the all-male school. After an extensive
trial, the court found that the boys' school offered a superior
education in virtually every respect: more highly qualified faculty,
more rigorous and diverse math and science programs, more and better
computers, much better library facilities, a far greater endowment and
many more extracurricular offerings, to name just a few of the areas
where the court found large disparities. As a result, the court ordered
the all-boys school to admit girls. Interestingly, while many girls
subsequently have sought access to and attended the formerly all-male
magnet school, Philadelphia's girls' school remains all-female because
no boy has ever sought admittance, which says something about the social
value placed on girlhood. One of the worst insults to a boy is to be
called a girl, and boys seem keenly aware of the social stigma attendant
to an all-girl environment. That is not to say that all-female
education is a bad idea -- only that we need to be sure that it's done
in a way that doesn't reinforce existing stigma and stereotypes about
the supposedly different interests and abilities of men and women.

While I agree with you that a number of highly qualified and
accomplished women are graduates of Philadelphia's all-female magnet
school (the co-president of my organization, Marcia Greenberger, among
them), we should be careful not to jump to the conclusion that the
success of the school's graduates is attributable to its all-female
status. The school is highly selective, accepting only the cream of the
crop of students. This difficulty has often plagued research on the
educational value of single-sex schools, such as private women's
colleges, for example. I'm not saying that Philly's all-girl school
isn't a great school -- only that it can't be evaluated without looking
at its history and the formerly all-boy school that was its supposed

Deborah Brake

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