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The Rochester City School District is among districts across the country experimenting with single-sex classrooms. Some have a strategic plan for how to serve each gender. Others are separating girls and boys, with no real plan. An RCSD teacher described single-sex classes implemented with no support or buy-in from parents and students.

The U.S. Department of Education legalized same-sex public schools in 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal. But now there are growing challenges to these classrooms. The ACLU and individual parents are suing over what they perceive as gender inequality:

The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics say separation violates the Constitution’s equal-protection clause by providing education that is unequal. They say it isn’t effective and propagates stereotypes. A group of social scientists called the American Council for CoEducational Schooling published an article in Science magazine last year saying single-sex education is “pseudoscience” and brain research showing differences between the sexes is unconvincing.

There can be greater differences between girls in girls’ classes, and between boys in boys’ classes, than exist between boys and girls in coed rooms, said Sue Klein, an ex-Education Department official who is education equity director for the Feminist Majority Foundation, which opposes single-sex classes.

There is limited national research on the effectiveness of separating boys and girls, and most of it was done on private schools, where the practice was traditionally more common than in public schools.

The Democrat and Chronicle did a series on School #9’s boys program, which is showing some promise. The school serves primarily African-American boys, who have the worst graduation rate. But I couldn’t help but think about the girls. Who was focusing on them? The city now has its first all-girls charter school.

The jury is way out on whether these programs are effective. Perhaps some schools are successful because they have longer hours or specialized programs and gender-separation is not a factor. It will be interesting to see if courts stop the trend before the data is in.

Links of the Day:

– More fallout from the High Falls Garage audit. People who park in the garage got hit with multiple charges.

– The mother of a girl shot and killed by her father is suing the Rochester police Department, claiming it sat on a report the father did not have permission to take her out of town.

– Assemblyman Vito Lopez made everyone kiss his ring.

– U.S. taxpayers – all of us – have paid dearly for professional sports stadiums.

– I’m excited. I’m up for Best reporter, twitter account and blog in City’s Newspaper’s annual poll.

Check out I found hanging on a wall:

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