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Pushback Against the Pushback

Advocates for single sex schooling, both educators and parents, are making their argument.

In this article, we hear from some parents in Tampa:

While some parents, like Leath, specifically sought out the single-gender option, others with students already enrolled at those east Tampa schools simply embraced the change. And they've seen a difference, too.

Take Franklin eighth-grader Aaron Harper's mother said he still makes straight A's, just like last year. The difference now, without girls around, Aaron tells his mom: less "heckling" in the hallways so he stays focused.

For Geralyn Leath, too, the benefits have extended beyond the classroom. "When I pick her up from school, the girls are so happy," her mother said. "Laughing, playing.

"They don't look like they miss the boys to me."

The real question is whether the attack in the respected Science will slow down the trend of more public schools opting for single sex. Here's another experiment unfolding in Minneapolis:

To Battle Creek teacher Stephanie Drow, one key benefit of separating boys and girls is that "they act more age-appropriate." Girls in her classes are more relaxed, she said, while in the co-ed classes she used to teach, "It was always about who's trying to get a boy."

Several boys and girls agreed. Without students of the opposite sex in the room, "We can just act like ourselves," said eighth-grader Chimua Lor.

Teachers also said they notice gender differences in their classes and tweak lessons accordingly. For example, boys tend to be more competitive and crave more physical activity, they said, while girls are more organized.

And then there's the third concern (coming mostly from me). From what I've seen single sex education can have a positive impact -- especially for girls. High quality all-boys charter schools are having a positive impact on boys -- but so are co-ed high quality charters.

So, if single sex education isn't the answer to the boy troubles, then what's the backup plan?

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