Controversial New Study Concludes Single-Sex Education Doesn't Boost Student Performance

A paper in Science says single-sex education can hinder kids' relationships with members of the opposite sex, but other experts disagree.

For the past two years, Chicago's Urban Prep Academy, the nation’s first all-male public charter high school, has made headlines for sending 100 percent of its graduating seniors on to college. But according to a controversial new paper published in the latest issue of Science, being all-male has nothing to do with the school's academic success.

The eight authors of the paper, "The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling" (PDF), say there’s no legitimate research indicating that gender segregation helps Urban Prep—or the over 500 other single-sex schools in the United States—boost students' academic performance. In fact, they argue, same-sex education can be harmful to children because it increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism. In the case of Urban Prep, which serves a largely black and low-income student population, the authors say success is the result of "the quality of the student body, demanding curricula, and many other features known to also promote achievement at coeducational schools."

The paper is a review of existing research, not an original study—lead author Diane F. Halpern, a psychologist at Claremont McKenna College and a past president of the American Psychological Association, says she and her colleagues "cited major studies that show there's no benefit to single-sex education." They rely heavily on a U.S. Department of Education review and data from the Programme for International Student Assessment that both found "little overall difference between SS and mixed-sex academic outcomes."According to the paper, "the strongest argument against SS education is that it reduces boys' and girls' opportunities to work together". The result, the authors say, is that girls become sex-typed and "boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive."

Tim King, who founded Urban Prep, is unhappy with the way his school is portrayed in the paper. "Black boys are dropping out in really high rates, are having high contact with the criminal justice system, and enrolling in college but not completing it," he says. "We created a school to address those issues specifically." King doesn’t believe it would be impossible to address such problems in a coed environment, "just more difficult."

He disagrees with the idea that students at same-sex schools are sex-typed. "You have students who are doing the girl roles when they’re reading Shakespeare, students who have a better understanding of black manhood and masculinity," says King. The school environment celebrates students because they got an A on a test—which counters messages the boys hear on the street that "you can't read a book because that’s acting like a girl and you’re a punk."

Leonard Sax, founder and director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, is similarly dismayed by the paper, which he says is seriously flawed. In particular, Sax says, much of the research the authors cites actually took place in coed preschool classrooms. And the studies cited were all "authored or co-authored by one or more of the authors of the Science paper," he says.

Sax has invited all eight authors to attend NASSPE’s upcoming international conference, which will feature Alisha Kiner, principal of Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School. The school, which is coed but has had single-sex classrooms since 2007, won Obama's 2011 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. The graduation rate has soared from 55 to 82 percent, and as a prize, President Obama delivered the senior class' commencement address. Sax says Kiner will explain why she believes single-sex classrooms are an important element to her school’s success. "Before you dismiss" it Sax wrote in an email to the authors, "wouldn’t it be of value actually to meet her and hear what she has to say?" But Halpern says the group was "told they could attend but could not speak," so they do not plan to go.

Experts on both sides of the debate frame their position as an issue of fairness. Single-sex education should "not be a choice that people allow for public education," Halpern says. Sax counters that the Halpern and her colleagues are "asking the wrong question." They're asking "which is better, single-sex or coeducation? We are not asserting that single-sex education is categorically better than coeducation." But, he says, if 10 percent of children "would benefit at some point in their childhood or adolescence from being in a single-sex classroom or school, why shouldn't that option be available?"

Photo courtesy of Urban Prep High School

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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