Conn. ACLU: Illegal To Separate Classes By Gender
A civil liberties group called on Connecticut education officials Wednesday to reject a report on creating single-sex classrooms to address a gender achievement gap, saying separating boys and girls would be unconstitutional.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut sent a letter to state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor criticizing the report as inadequate and expressing concern that educators who read it would decide to try single-sex classrooms. The ACLU also urged Pryor to notify all public schools in the state that separating classes by gender would be illegal.
"Our state constitution prohibits this kind of segregation," said David McGuire, staff attorney for the state ACLU.
McGuire said he was unaware of any public school in Connecticut with single-sex classrooms.
The report was released earlier this year by the Middletown-based State Education Resource Center, a nonprofit funded by the state Education Department. Marianne Kirner, the center's executive director, didn't return messages seeking comment.
State Department of Education officials are reviewing the ACLU's letter, said agency spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly.
"We are pleased that the SERC report and ACLU response have catalyzed this critical dialogue," Donnelly said. "The issue of gender equity -- and the question of providing a high-quality education to our girls and young women -- are highly important."
The report presents the pros and cons of separating classes by gender to address an achievement gap in which girls score higher on standardized tests and have fewer problems in school than boys. The report discusses potential legal problems and says it doesn't endorse or oppose single-sex classes.
The report says that the concept of single-sex classrooms is gaining momentum in many states but that there are conflicting studies on its effectiveness.
"Single-sex schools and classes may have the potential to be effective and have their niche in 21st-century school reform," the report says.