A Georgia school district has become the first in the nation to convert to single-sex education. The Greene County school district voted unanimously last week to make the move this fall in response to low academic achievement, among other problems.
In a statement on the district’s web site, Superintendent Shawn McCollough stated, “We have a wonderful community here in Greene County, but our students are not having the type of success that they truly deserve. By converting our schools to Single Gender Academies, we expect student achievement and college acceptance will increase, and discipline rates, teen pregnancy, and dropout rates will decrease.”
“Thinking outside of the box simply isn’t enough,” McCollough added. “You actually have to do something outside of the box. If the single gender format is good enough for our finest private and charter schools, then why wouldn’t it be good enough for our public schools?”
The move has plently of critics including, ironically enough, Leonard Sax, head of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. “This is the worst kind of publicity for our movement,” he tells the Associated Press. “It misses the whole point. Our movement is about choice, about giving parents a choice. One size does not fit all. Even a small school district needs to provide choice.” While districts nationwide have converted individual schools to a single-sex model, the small, rural district east of Atlanta is believed to be the first to adopt single-sex education across an entire public school district.
Federal law allows single-sex classrooms or schools but parents must also have the option of a publicly funded coeducational experience for their children, said Sax, who calls Greene County’s decision illegal. McCollough says he’s been advised by the district’s attorneys that the conversion is allowable under federal law. “This is entirely legal and we’re moving forward with it,” he said.