A bill being sponsored by Representative Carlo Basile and supported by Mayor Thomas Menino would bring single-sex public education back to the Commonwealth. The bill was ordered to a third reading at the State House this week and Basile recently touted the bill on New England Cable News (NECN) last week.
“I think it is important to give parents more options for school choice,” said Basile. “While I understand it is not for everybody, single-sex public schools have worked remarkably well in other cities throughout the country like Chicago, Seattle, New York and Detroit.”
In fact, single-sex public schools or classrooms exist in about 500 locations throughout the country.
The language in the bill gives an option for school districts to opt out of single-sex public education and gives parents the choice whether or not to send their kids to a single-sex public school.
“Boston used to have single-sex public schools with the exam schools like Boys and Girls Latin so this is not unprecedented in the state’s history,” said Basile. “This bill would simply change the law so single-sex public schools are not prohibited in the state.”
In his interview with NECN, Basile explained that the bill must provide equal opportunity for both boys and girls single-sex schools in each district that decide to implement the law if passed.
“I worked with Mayor Menino and Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson on this bill and we all share the belief that public schools should be able to offer whatever works for different types of learners and this includes single-sex classes,” said Basile. “We need the flexibility to provide the same opportunities for students in Boston and across Massachusetts.”
Basile, a graduate of St. Dominic Savio High School, an all-boys school at the time, said some kids do better in coed classrooms but others do better in single-sex classrooms.
“I don’t believe that every child should be in a single-gender classroom but I do believe that every parent should have a choice,” he said. “Some parents already have the choice – but only if they can afford a private school. I think all parents should have the choice, regardless of their ability to pay for education.”
Research has shown that single-sex classes and programs can help break down gender stereotypes, especially when teachers have appropriate professional development.
“The legislation would not mandate participation but would allow school districts and public charters to have the option,” said Basile. “Whether we are talking about traditional public schools, or charter schools, or innovation schools, or pilot schools, it is important that all schools have all of the tools to innovate and foster success for our students. In Boston, I believe that single-sex education is part of that equation.”