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The most extreme program was at Hankins Middle School in Theodore, Alabama, where boys and girls ate lunch at different times and were prohibited from speaking to one another on school grounds. Mark Jones, whose son Jacob attends Hankins, said that when he complained to the principal about the changes, she told him they were necessary because “boys’ and girls’ brains were so different they needed different curriculum.” “Segregating boys and girls didn’t make things any better for our children. “Our kids were basically being taught ideas about gender that come from the Dark Ages.” Another parent, Terry Stevens, also objected.
Emily, darling, would you please sit down for me and join us in this exercise? Sax’s essay was “Six Degrees of Separation,” a reference to the SSPE guideline that while the perfect ambient temperature for a male classroom is 69 degrees Fahrenheit, females learn most effectively at 75 degrees.
The Department of Education accelerated the trend in 2006 by altering the Title IX provision of the No Child Left Behind Act to ease restrictions on gender-segregated education in public schools. Sax, a child psychologist who never set foot in a classroom as a teacher, have stepped up their promotion of SSPE as a panacea for public education.
With scant evidence backing them up, they herald SSPE as the most effective way to narrow the achievement gaps between rich and poor students and black and white students that persist eight years after the passage of No Child Left Behind.
Separating boys and girls is a longstanding tradition at private and parochial schools.
The concept began to gain traction in American public schools earlier this decade as schools began to experiment with SSPE in oft-desperate attempts to reduce disciplinary problems and improve test scores.