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« Wall Street Journal | Main | Between the lines »

Feb 22, 2006

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Glenn C Jordan Jr

As a middle school teacher, I don't think this is such a bad idea. The whole boy/girl awareness things starts to bloom during these years and it creates a tension that can affect even the most tightly-controlled classroom setting. I didn't believe this when I first went into teaching, but I've since learned that boys and girls do have different styles. Girls thrive more in the traditional lecture setting, while boys will be much more motivated if you can involve them kinetically. Of course there are exceptions both ways. Also, boys and girls should be exposed to both methods, but I think there's a strong possbility it would work more effectively in separate sex settings. I don't foresee it happening in public schools, but I believe it would give some students a better chance to thrive academically.

Ed Cone

Glenn -- how do you feel about a teacher initiating such a program without board approval, given the possible legal ramifications and definite policy implications Muller raises?

Glenn C Jordan Jr

The lawsuit question is legimate. When I read that the teacher hatching the experiment was a 31-year veteran not planning to be a 32-year veteran, it didn't surprise me. I'm sure you can come up with a lot of good ideas over 30+ years that never take off because of too many nervous Nellies calling the shots. Why not go out with a bang?

What makes me trust this plan is the letter sent home to parents. I think if any serious objections had arisen after parents had received notification, the school's principal would likely have not allowed the experiment to take place. The letter does give them some cover, but I'm sure not enough to stop a lawsuit if someone is determined to pursue it.

To me the most frustrating aspect of public education is that it has become so top-heavy, thus making the avoidance of lawsuits a high priority. Bureaucratic control is not a great incubator for educational innovation. The people who are in direct contact with the kids, the teachers and parents, will have the greatest impact on what happens no matter how many lawsuits the suits at the central office are trying to dodge.

Ed Cone

Thanks, Glenn, for the thoughtful response.

Danny Wright

I don't know that Patrick Winn's comment about the teachers' decision not to tell the superintendent or the school board is completely revealing concerning the "chain of command".

What people should be concerned about is whether or not the PRINCIPAL of McDougle Middle School is on board with the single-sex classroom plan. A

I would think that principals have the main authority over decisions like this in their schools, and I cannot imagine that this policy would have been implemented without the principal's knowledge or permission. I do not know why Winn neglected to mention the school's principal at all in the article.

Bottom line for me: If the principal approved the plan and the parents were notified as they were, then I don't think that it is an issue for the superintendent or the board. That's just more bureaucracy and less faith in educators.

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