Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling
In the coming weeks, the federal Department of Education is expected to issue final regulations allowing public school districts greater flexibility in establishing classes and schools that separate students on the basis of sex. The new rules will represent an about-face on federal interpretations of Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. The regulations are intended to lift the legal cloud now hanging over the increasing number of single-sex classes and schools nationwide and to reconcile any conflicts with the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which authorizes federal funds for such innovative programs.
Professor Rosemary Salomone, the Kenneth Wang Professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law, is prepared to speak to the media on the legal and policy issues surrounding the new regulations. Professor Salomone is the author of a definitive and highly acclaimed book on the topic, Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling (Yale University Press, 2003), which was funded under a fellowship from the Soros Foundation and named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2005 by Choice Magazine. She has written and lectured widely on gender and schooling, has served as a legal consultant to organizers of all-girls’ and all-boys’ schools nationwide, and was an adviser to the federal Office for Civil Rights on the drafting of the proposed regulations.
The regulations are expected to generate debate and controversy especially from civil liberties and organized women’s groups which have opposed any changes in the existing Title IX regulations dating from 1975. Opponents argue that single-sex programs perpetuate harmful sex stereotypes and stigmatize girls in particular. Professor Salomone maintains that such programs, which traditionally have existed within the private school network, should be made available as an option within public schools. She further maintains that when thoughtfully planned and implemented, this newly conceived wave of programs proves effective in producing short- and long-term academic and social benefits especially among disadvantaged minority students. Her position on the details of the final regulations awaits their publication.