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Are Single-Gender Schools The Solution For Struggling Performance In Austin Classrooms
No girls allowed -- Some research has showed middle-school-age boys perform better in single-gender classrooms.
Austin already has an all-girls school, The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, in Southwest Austin.
School board members for Austin’s Independent School District are now finalizing a plan for creating an all-boys school. It’s considering two main proposals.
In one proposal, a brother school to Ann Richards would be created with boys from across the school district applying for admission. The other proposal would be to focus specifically on one lower-performing neighborhood and use single-gender schools as a way to boost performance.
For long-time Northeast Austin resident Joan Bartz, the school board’s decision is a matter of fairness.
“We want the very best for our students, as they [the school board] give to any other part of the city,” said Bartz.
Bartz has lived in Northeast Austin for 40 plus years. She’s sent her kids through schools there and is now ready to take a gamble on single-gender schools in an effort to boost struggling classroom performance.
“We cannot continue down the path we’re on now, where the schools are not able to produce for the students as they should,” said Bartz.
At the school board's public meeting Monday night, Bartz spoke in favor of turning Garcia Middle School and Pearce Middle school, both in Northeast Austin, into one all-boys and one all-girls school.
“And we expect you, the board, to approve everything at the very highest top level for our schools over here that you have for the Ann Richards School in West Austin,” said Bartz, about the school board treating her neighborhood fairly.
But not everyone at the school board’s public meeting favored single-gender schools exclusively in Northeast Austin.
“There’s been a great many of us who've put in a lot of time an energy into making sure we have a brother school for the Ann Richards School in Austin,” one parent told the school board.
A brother school to Ann Richards would broaden the all-boys school beyond just Northeast Austin, allowing students from across the district to apply for admission.
“I believe education should bring people together, people of different socio economic backgrounds, genders and races,” said another parent. “I do not feel public education should separate them.”
The brother school might be a more inclusive plan for all of AISD, but it’s not one Bartz says will help the students of Northeast Austin.
“No, especially not if it's in West Austin,” she said, “and if students will have to apply and prove they're good enough to attend this school. No! That's not what this is all about.”
A final decision on what to do with the single-gender schools will be made by the school board on Dec. 17.
By Karen Kiley