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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Gender matters in the classroom

A new charter school will cater to girls, mirroring the trend of single-sex education.

A charter school in St. Paul might become the first public school in Minnesota that caters specifically to educating girls. The national single-sex education movement has been stalled by differing research on the notion of “separate but equal” in the classroom.

Single-sex education models have shown promising results. In coeducation classrooms, boys and girls are more likely to act in ways prescribed to their particular gender. Adolescents become hyper-aware what prevailing culture declares is “normal” for their gender. Studies show that single-sex classrooms at their best relieve this “monopolization of the sexes” and give students a more comfortable space to try nonstereotypical activities and classes without the fear of being picked on or labeled as different.

Students will usually choose courses and activities that are familiar and safe. A girl is more likely to take a computer science class elective that has all girls, rather than one in a coed environment disproportionately filled with 18 boys to one girl. Same-sex education will allow students to have more diverse role models of their own gender. The most accomplished student in the sciences will be female in an all-girls school, and all the members of the chorus for an all-boys school will be male.

Studies have shown that boys and girls share more commonalities than they do differences in how they learn. This has been the finding from the Department of Education, which opposes single-sex education. The department argues that separating boys and girls into separate classrooms and campuses could heighten the sense of difference between the sexes.

We applaud the new charter school’s initiative that aims to realize the full potential of Minnesotan girls. Having the option of single-sex classrooms will provide further insight into its effectiveness. The only way to fully understand the effects of single-sex education is to test the waters, and then take the path that proves most effective in educating our youth.

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