Marie Diamond

Marie Diamond

Marie Diamond hails from the great metropolis of Temple, Texas, and currently resides in Washington, DC—the only city in America where her political nerdiness is considered normal. She graduated with a degree in political science from Yale, where she saw dozens of her friends and classmates clamorinng to join Teach For America and thought “huh, there might be something to this idea.” She worked as a speechwriter at a communications firm and as a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress before joining Teach For America as the director of special projects & communications to founder and CEO Wendy Kopp.  

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This post is part of an ongoing series on Pass the Chalk called Point/Counterpoint, where two bloggers will argue opposite sides of a pressing issue in education. Yesterday, blogger Erin Teater argued for gender-segregated schools in "No Girls Allowed! The Case For Gender-Segregated Schools." Today, Marie Diamond rebuts.

While Erin can speak firsthand about the benefits of gender-segregated education at schools in low-income communities, I’m disturbed by the trend and its effects on students from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Does gender-segregated education really improve students’ learning, and in the long run, is it good for the welfare and social development of kids?

Boys and girls in the classroom together.

While the number of gender-segregated schools and classrooms remains small, they are growing fast. In 2002, only a dozen schools had single-sex classrooms, but today as many as 500 in 40 states do. Are these classrooms good for kids? The evidence suggests no. Last year Science magazine published a comprehensive review of existing research that concluded “there is no well-designed research showing that single-sex education improves students’ academic performance.” What’s more, separating boys and girls “reinforces stereotypes and sexism” because it “makes gender more salient.” Segregation, whether race-based or gender-based, “undermines rather than promotes equality,” the paper says. The New York Times, writing about the same study, points out that there’s even disagreement about the degree of success at Chicago’s Urban Prep, one of the schools that Erin mentions in her post.

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