Saturday, March 8, 2008

On the Merits of Single-Sex Education - Part II

Parenting, today, is more important than ever. There are great risks and challenges facing the next generations. Both males and females must come to grips with definitions of manhood since both genders reinforce the image. In his new book, Marc Anthony Neal, who is viewed by some as the leading African-American intellectual interpreting Generation X today, argues that the idea of a "Strong Black Man" is not compatible with parenting, because parenting functions reflect female gender roles. As the father of two daughters, Neal says that raising children with this gender view of the world today cannot be sustained in an economy where African-American females are increasingly likely to be the bread-winners in families. More importantly, to maintain them will continue to put all African-American children — male and female — at risk. Nurturing males has many benefits, but only one is paramount – the survival of a people.

Yet, there may be hope. In 2002, Lee Mansell, principal of Foley Intermediate School in Foley, Alabama read a book by Michael Gurian called Boys and Girls Learn Differently! which started her thinking more seriously about single sex education. After that she discovered the ideas of Leonard Sax in a magazine article and thought that his insights would help improve the test scores of Foley’s lowest-achieving group, minority boys. Sax went on to publish those ideas in Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. In 2003, Mansell began educating teachers and parents about single-sex education and launched the program in 2005. It has been so successful that Sax, a family physician turned author and advocate, will quit his medical practice this May to devote himself full time to promoting single-sex public education.

That the integration of brain maturation and gender has finally made it into the public school system is a miracle and is the making of a revolution. This acceptance is due, I believe, because nothing else educators have done since the 1970s has worked. That's when politics entered the educational system in the form of collective bargaining. How much did politics play a role? Well, in 2003 Hillary Clinton briefed the American Federation of Teachers about the threat that Iraq represented, whereupon the nation’s second-largest teacher’s union supported the Bush administration's jihad to attack Iraq. What is an American teachers union doing involved with supporting military action in a sovereign nation, you ask? That's what some Congressional oversight committee should be asking because the behavior of the AFT and its board clearly shows that there are some citizens managing your child's future who need to be doing something else, and if this something else is global imperialism, they should be shown the door.

This beginning is not the end. What must happen next is that the textbooks and standardized tests need to be written at the language and grade level at which the children are being taught, and not 4-5 grade levels above. Language is where the cultural discrimination has been taking place to thwart the dreams of young people for the pass 30 years no matter what their complexion. Of course, some school districts also removed music, physical education, and health care from the schools to further degrade the educational process and prevent youngsters who are right-hemisphere dominant, particularly African-Americans, from advancing intellectually into historic areas of self-employment — better to have the dropouts ready for all those jobs in the military or to feed the excessive appetite of an unjust predatory penal system.

It's a long road to reconstruction, as the first American social reconstruction proved, but there are leaders in this 21st century social revolution that have at least kick-started it. Parents can learn more about Foley Intermediate School here: Teaching Boys and Girls Separately by Elizabeth Weil, New York Times, 2 March 2008.

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