Student Rights Press Release

07.11.07

ACLU Opens Investigation into Proposed Sex-Segregated Schools

CLEVELAND- Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio launched an investigation into a proposed initiative by the Cleveland Municipal School District to create five sex-segregated schools. The ACLU of Ohio sent a wide-ranging public records request to Dr. Eugene Sanders, Superintendent of the CMSD, asking for information on various issues, some of which included: policies and procedures adopted for the schools, what events or discussions occurred that led the schools to adopt sex-segregated schools and how students and teachers will be assigned to the schools.

“Segregating schools based on sex is a drastic approach to correcting the problems within Cleveland schools and could prove to be detrimental to many young people’s education,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. “There are countless other methods that have been touted by educators for years that would likely produce much better results than such an unproven, extreme program as segregating students by sex.”

Other struggling urban school districts from around the country have found great success by implementing changes such as recruiting culturally competent teachers, increasing teacher pay, investing in administrative improvements, making the curriculum more rigorous and involving surrounding communities in raising the educational standards of the district.

In addition, a report issued by the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions in August 2006 pointed to hiring of highly qualified teachers and regular attendance by students as the two greatest indicators of success in school.

Sex-segregated schools have been criticized as perpetuating outdated stereotypes of psychological differences between boys and girls and are often products of faulty scientific research. Opponents also worry that students will not receive equitable funding and services when schools are segregated by sex.

In June 2007, after a maelstrom of contentious debate spurred by angry parents, Dr. Sanders opted not to open two additional sex-segregated elementary schools.

“Americans have long since learned that separate is not equal when it comes to educating our young people. While officials’ zeal to improve Cleveland schools is admirable, CMSD should not adopt drastic, unproven techniques while ignoring other methods that have been proven effective,” concluded Gamso.