Juliet Williams’ op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, entitled “What’s wrong with single-sex schools? A lot,” wrongly portrays single-sex schools as institutions that perpetuate “limiting gender stereotypes.”
The Oracle Editorial Board strongly believes in single-sex schools. We would not be the young women we are today had we attended coeducational schools. Our experience at Archer has empowered us to lead our generation with compassion.
As students, we provide a perspective on the issue that Williams cannot. The one study that she cites cannot and does not encapsulate our real experiences attending our school — we have grown immeasurably from the environment around us.
Contrary to Williams’ opinion, the Archer curriculum does not perpetuate gender stereotypes. Rather, our school has a distinctly feminist mission statement that stresses equality, not misandry.
We are fortunate enough to be able to make mistakes in an environment that supports us, especially when we fail. At Archer, we are taught that mistakes are invaluable components in the educational process.
This notion is supported in the research. According to the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, girls’ school graduates are more than twice as likely to earn a doctoral degree compared to girls who attend coeducational schools.
“In single-sex schools across the country,” Williams writes, “girls’ classrooms are decorated in pastels while boys are surrounded by bold colors; girls are assigned to read romantic fiction, while boys are given non-fiction books; boys are subjected to frequent drills and timed tests, while girls are assigned group work and non-competitive activities.”
This statement is much too general to be credible, and in our experience, it is simply false.
Our classrooms are lined wall to wall with bright colors. We read classic literature, postmodern fiction, non-fiction and everything in between. We are tested on material regularly — a necessary evil in an educational community that understands we have to be competitive, not just pat each other on the back. We collaborate to strengthen our communication skills, not just to be social. We debate about slavery reparations, a free market economy and the ethics of cloning. We excel in history, English, science and math. We are passionate learners and thinkers, never to be silenced.
Single-sex education might not be right for everyone, but it needs to be an option in the public school system. Private schooling is expensive, but that does not mean that girls should be deprived of a community like Archer’s during the most formative years of their lives.