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Same, Different, Equal

Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling

Rosemary C. Salomone
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Same, Different, Equal
    Book Description:

    Although coeducation has been the norm within private and public schools since the 1970s, single-sex education has staged a comeback in recent years as a means of addressing the academic and social problems faced by some students. Single-sex education raises controversy on ideological grounds, and in 1996 the Supreme Court struck down the all-male admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute in a decision that has cast a legal cloud over public initiatives. In this timely book, Rosemary Salomone offers a reasoned educational and legal argument supporting single-sex education as an alternative to coeducation, particularly in the case of disadvantaged minority students.Salomone examines the history of women's education and exclusion, philosophical and psychological theories of sameness and difference, findings on educational achievement and performance, the research evidence on single-sex schooling, and the legal questions that have arisen. Correcting many of the current misconceptions about single-sex education, she argues that it is a viable option and that the road to gender equality should be paved with diverse educational opportunities for all students-regardless of race, class, or gender.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12914-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1 Text and Subtext
    (pp. 1-6)

    It was the summer of 1996, not a particularly memorable summer by most accounts. Yet two oddly related events, one long-anticipated and the other a bolt from the blue, engrossed the media at least for the moment. In late June the United States Supreme Court struck down the all-male admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute. That sweeping decision on the constitutional dimensions of gender equality set to rest not only the claims against VMI but also similar litigation against the Citadel in South Carolina.¹ Several weeks later, with the ink barely dry on the pages of that opinion, Community...

  6. 2 A Tale of Three Cities
    (pp. 7-37)

    Single-sex education in the United States is and always has been predominantly a private school phenomenon. Even during the onslaught of mergers and closings in the 1960s and 1970s, a significant number of private same-sex schools survived, and they are still flourishing, along with new upstarts. The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools now counts among its members 94 private day and boarding schools, while 114 schools in the United States, a fair number of them church-related, belong to the International Coalition of Boys’ Schools.¹ Despite efforts to admit a racially and economically diverse group of students, most of these, particularly...

  7. 3 Equality Engendered
    (pp. 38-63)

    For most observers, the controversy over single-sex schooling comes down to a matter of law and policy, and undoubtedly that is how it will come to rest, at least for the time being. But listen carefully to the arguments in court and the sound bytes culled from the media, and you quickly grasp a philosophical dimension, set against the history of women’s exclusion and subordination, that quietly but forcefully drives the debate. Here is where we find the most fundamental disagreements. And it is here that we find the wellspring from which the opposition has grown.

    At the heart of...

  8. 4 Myths and Realities in the Gender Wars
    (pp. 64-84)

    For three decades, researchers and advocates have drawn on the equality principle, and above all on the emotive force of difference and subordination, to level the educational playing field for girls. This remarkably successful yet still unfinished project forms the backdrop against which the current debate over single-sex schooling has evolved. The arguments and counterarguments that have emerged are undoubtedly crucial to understanding how the approach has recaptured the public imagination and why it evokes almost visceral responses among educators, policymakers, scholars, and civil rights groups. Unfortunately, much of the research and findings have become mired in myths, misunderstandings, and...

  9. 5 Who’s Winning, Who’s Losing, and Why?
    (pp. 85-115)

    Sifting through the opposing arguments on gender and schooling proves somewhat exasperating. Are schools meeting the academic and emotional needs of girls and boys at different age levels and among distinct racial and social groups? If not, then why not? Is it just institutional failure or does it have something to do with the sexes themselves? Or is it a combination of both? In searching for an answer to these questions, it is often difficult to distinguish between fact and opinion, and the opinions are indeed forcefully expressed. Personal feelings and professional reputations are not spared. Objectivity at times gives...

  10. 6 Legal Narratives
    (pp. 116-149)

    The policy debate over single-sex schooling versus coeducation ebbed and flowed over two centuries of women’s participation in formalized schooling. Not until the second half of the twentieth century was the question gradually transformed into a series of legal conflicts. At that time, the Supreme Court’s unanimous and far-reaching decision on racial segregation inBrown v. Board of Educationbecame a guiding force in breaking down social and political barriers that historically excluded certain groups, including women, from equal opportunity.¹

    Over the following two decades,Browninspired the civil rights and women’s movements and laid the groundwork for broadscale congressional...

  11. 7 Reconciling the Law
    (pp. 150-187)

    In the modern-day struggle to achieve gender equity in education, 1972 and 1996 stand out as hallmark years. The first marks congressional enactment of Title IX. The second brought the Supreme Court’s ringing affirmation of women’s equality in the case against the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). In the intervening years, the law governing single-sex elementary and secondary programs had gradually evolved as a patchwork quilt of lower court decisions and Office for Civil Rights rulings and warnings. None of these alone or combined provided satisfactory guidance, while the facts presented inHogan,the case challenging the all-female nursing school, proved...

  12. 8 The Research Evidence
    (pp. 188-236)

    The presumption in favor of coeducation runs not only in the law but just as deeply in the hearts and minds of most Americans. As single-sex education slowly gains interest and appeal in wider circles, policymakers, educators, and advocates continue to search for empirical findings to legitimize this apparent departure from the prevailing norm.

    Recent developments in Washington promise to give public school districts some breathing space, within certain guidelines. Nevertheless, at the bottom line, the Supreme Court’s VMI decision still requires school officials and charter school organizers to present “an exceedingly persuasive justification” for separating students on the basis...

  13. 9 Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling
    (pp. 237-244)

    Despite growing popular support for single-sex schooling, both the overwhelming cultural preference for coeducation and the continuing legal and social presumptions against sex separation have kept the approach on the defensive. Whether or not this position is justified, it has set the ground rules for public and scholarly discourse. Nonetheless, the surrounding debate that has filtered through the courts and the press for three decades has come to a critical juncture, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity to educators, policymakers, and society at large. As the pieces slowly fall into place, we should dare to rethink and redefine this...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 245-278)
  15. Index
    (pp. 279-288)