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Miami-Dade lawmakers mull gender-specific schools

Two Miami-Dade lawmakers have filed legislation that would encourage Florida school districts to try gender-specific classrooms.

The proposal, by state Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr., of Hialeah, and Sen. Anitere Flores, of Miami, would designate state funding to help five school systems pilot the idea at an elementary school.

The initiative would cost no more than $1 million, Diaz said.

"There is a school of thought that boys develop slower and girls are always ahead in elementary school," Diaz said. "At the same time, there is also research that shows that girls can be intimidated in some classes and not speak up as much."

If the proposal becomes law, parents would have the ability to opt in (or opt out) of the gender-specific schools. The students would all come together for lunch, and classes such as art, music and foreign language. 

Diaz envisions the pilot program lasting for two years. He considers it an important step in expanding school choice.

"There's a conspiracy theory that Republicans are all about school choice because they favor charter schools," Diaz said. "A lot of school choice exists through our traditional public schools. This is another avenue for us to create more options for parents."

Diaz already has the support of Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie, who has a handful of gender-specific classrooms in his district.

"Single gender opportunities provide choice and innovation options to meet the diverse learning and social emotional needs of our students,” Runcie said in a statement.

The Miami-Dade district has two single-gender magnet schools: The Young Women's Preparatory Academy in Little Havana and The Young Men's Preparatory Academy in Allapattah.


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Do we have any research studies that shows that this statement may have merit?:

"Single gender opportunities provide choice and innovation options to meet the diverse learning and social emotional needs of our students,” Runcie said in a statement.

As a Professor Emerita from NY, I have a focus on what effects classroom climate have on students' learning. I have a sincere hope that we can find what works best, single-gender or not. BUT WE NEED STUDIES, and I'll bet there are hundreds of them. This story mentioned none.

My own experience is that as reported by this article:

1. boys slouch in a chair and work hardest at coming up with jokes that take the air out of the learning balloon, poking fun at the teacher or bullying one another in an effort to AVOID THINKING, DISCUSSING ANYTHING SERIOUS. Outcomes are : 1. no progress in learning analytical thinking, 2.valuing education; 3. blunting of the class's group dynamics in the area of excited discussion/learning AND utter meltdown psychologically in dedicated teachers..we lose Them to Georgia, which pays more. Without STRONG DIRECTION, male only highschool or college classrooms are doomed when it comes to any "education." BUT they act the same in gender-mixed classes, demean and intimidate the girls as they give teachers a hard time and learn only what provokes laughter in classroom. Not all boys and not all classrooms. I'm sorry if this offends certain tchrs, but it's what I have seen across the board.

2. girls/young women in a mixed classroom cannot be engaged in the learning environment because "boys will be boys", their teachers know that the employment evaluations of them will partly based on classroom climate that is completely usurped by some rowdy, rude and sometimes dangerous boys. Girls sometimes get caught up in this game, too, esp. the ones who don't do homework or need badly boys' attention or other superficial stuff. YES, girls are intimidated and bullied by boys, so they shut down.

Not necessarily guided by these above views, theoretically, I have always thought because of these negative bi-gendered classroom faults that girls should have the chance to compete with each other on the basis of what they have learned, and without a circus atmosphere that intimidates and "puts them 'down'". As studies show, the late highschool atmosphere is nearly uncontrollable unless severe discipline is instituted for rude, insulting , nasty and attention-seeking behavior, male or female.

Girls should be able to find their single-sex classroom environments to be conducive to learning, which many many seek on their own.

I believe that boys and girls in middle and high schools should have SEPARATE CLASSROOMS nearly every subject so each could learn what it is to be adult and a wish to emulate same. That will take an environment SUPPORTED BY ADMINISTRATION UNAFRAID OF THE ROGUE STUDENT OR BOISTEROUS , DEMANDING PARENT. It has always struck me is what we need in schools to improve EVERYTHING is THOUGHTFUL LEADERS IN THE SCHOOL WHO IS NOT HIMSELF/HERSELF INTIMIDATED BY SCHOOL BOARDS AND OTHERS WHO OVERSEES HIS/HER JOB, PROMOTIONS, PAY RAISES etc.

LEADERS who are hired because of ideas, broad thinking patterns, maturity and wisdom (NO matter HOW old they are) NEED FULL SUPPORT OF ADMINISTRATION to develop better classroom climates. BUT RIGHT NOW, it's all about School Boards' huge power over a lot of things like curricula that is NOT their realm of expertise. Get them OFF the backs of teachers--except to motivate, praise good works.

I am convinced that many girls come to school Wanting to Learn, but having that opportunity ripped from them in the classroom, leaving them confused about which role to follow, the teachers' or the University's.

SO, juniors and seniors who are outstanding students in some ways and are eager to make change or enhance the learning already available, they should be encouraged, not squelched as that May intimidate professional Leadership.

Female gender treatment is nearly always completely missing as a goal from classrooms ignore the 800 # gorilla in the room silently watching as girls miss on smart, risktaking, decisive problem-solving women teachers. NEED many more of Those!

I always conjectured how those all -female classrooms might look IF the Equal Rights Amendment had passed.

I hope I will find out WHEN THE LEGislators AND ADMINISTRATION SEES THAT THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT IS PASSING in their states just in time to put substance into young women's goals!

IT has been 90 Years this year!


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