Editorial: What’s wrong with Juliet Williams’ Op-Ed? A lot.

Oracle Staff January 27, 2016 16
Editorial: What’s wrong with Juliet Williams’ Op-Ed? A lot.
A collection of books read by Archer girls sits on a bookshelf. Williams suggests that all-girls' schools only read "romantic fiction" but cites no evidence to support her claim. Photographer: Syd Stone '16.

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.

16 Comments »

  1. Yasmeen Namazie January 27, 2016 at 5:07 PM -

    Beautifully put. I am so proud of you guys for taking such a firm stance on this topic.

  2. Talia Geffen January 27, 2016 at 10:29 PM -

    Strong, genuine and very well-written! Thank you for writing this response to Williams’ ridiculous and seemingly unfounded claims. I am proud of you and grateful to you for voicing many of my own frustrations with her position.

  3. Candace Bowen January 28, 2016 at 4:03 PM -

    Strong piece and well-supported. Did you send it to Williams and to the LA Times? They should print it there.

    • Ms. Taylor January 29, 2016 at 10:56 AM -

      Yes, the editorial board submitted a version of this editorial to the L.A. Times last night.

  4. Hannah Levy January 28, 2016 at 5:19 PM -

    Amazing article.

  5. Dr. Yoshimura January 28, 2016 at 5:25 PM -

    I agree–Angelenos need to see this article. I especially love your rebuttal to the trope of “pastel walls and romances”: “too general to be credible, and, in our experience, simply false.” Well said.

  6. Susan Sullivan January 28, 2016 at 6:08 PM -

    Excellent piece. I was hoping there would be a strong response to this op-ed. I hope you send it to the LA Times.

  7. Tracy Poverstein January 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM -

    Brava! Your article shows how limited the LA times editorial is. I would love to see your response printed in the times. You speak from the heart and from personal experience, yet you support your article with facts.

  8. anthony chicco January 29, 2016 at 10:07 AM -

    Very good work by the authors and the creators of the wonderful Archer School. I would love to hear and opinion an some facts about all boys schools and how they relate to productivity and class as they enter college.

  9. Kate Webster January 29, 2016 at 10:36 AM -

    In highlighting problematic gender stereotypes, Williams’ superficial article reinforces them; thank you for providing first-hand opposition. So proud!!

  10. Miriam Otero January 29, 2016 at 11:30 AM -

    This is an excellent rebuke to the op-ed in the LA Times. I second Ms. Poverstein’s comment! I would love to see this printed in the Times. Excellent work!

  11. Teddie Kantz January 29, 2016 at 2:35 PM -

    Los Angeles Times just published an article on the front page yesterday discussing LAUSD newest superintendent Michelle King and that her daughter attended Archer. She felt “that watching how the all-girl school empowered her daughter made her believe in the value of single-gender schools-an option she has said she wants to expand in LA Unified.”

  12. Beth Gold January 29, 2016 at 5:27 PM -

    This is one of the best defenses of an all girls’ education that I have read. The fact that the editors took the initiative to write this impassioned but reasoned response is evidence alone of the benefits of an all girls’ environment. Personally, having taught at all girls’ schools and all boys school, I have empirically seen how healthy, supportive and empowering an all girls environment is. You made us all proud girls!

  13. Vivian Shay January 29, 2016 at 9:39 PM -

    Great article! So many stereotypes are placed on Archer simply because of it’s mission, and this article helps show that they are just not true!

  14. Steve Fife January 29, 2016 at 11:04 PM -

    Beautifully written and excellently articulated! Your article is in itself a refutation of the Op Ed piece’s thesis. It’s clear that the young women of Archer take an intellectual back seat to no one. Wonderful work!

  15. India Halsted January 29, 2016 at 11:11 PM -

    Amazing article! Congratulations Oracle Staff!