Separate But Equal: Massachusetts Moves Toward Segregated Math Classes

chct rege.JPGMassachusetts has joined the movement toward re-segregating our public schools by race or gender or sexual orientation. Superintendent Richard W. Rege Jr. in Chicopee is reportedly in favor of a new proposal to segregate students by gender for math classes. It is part of a trend that threatens the advances that we have made in the last six decades in desegregating our school system. Now, there will be “girl math” and “boy math” classes.

Various states are experimenting with all boy or all girl school, not just classes. I have been a critic of this trend, here and here.

The most recent proposal appears the brainchild of Bellamy Principal Matthew T. Francis, who reportedly attended an all-boys school as a child. He believes that other genders is a distraction and part of the reason that his school has underperformed: “I want to take away one of the variables.” Strangely, other schools not under Mr. Francis’ supervision have excelled on tests and math without adopted segregation by gender.

There are some studies that suggest that there might be marginal benefits from such segregation, but these studies remain sketchy. More importantly, segregation does not appear to be a significant factor in comparison to having good teaching, sufficient resources, and most importantly reasonably sized classes.

For the full story, click here.

45 thoughts on “Separate But Equal: Massachusetts Moves Toward Segregated Math Classes

  1. Let me see . . .




    Yep, math doesn’t care what sex you are.

    What’s next Mr Rege? Keeping the girls shoe-less and pregnant? Locked in the kitchen?

    I knew two brilliant mathematicians in college. The better of the two was a woman. Join the 21st Century, sport. You’ll be wasting a lot of potential talent until you do.

  2. My daughter is pretty good at math, better actually than most boys in her high school class. and I had a female tutor for math in college, she was awesome.

    Is this guy a mysogynist? What a moron and people wonder about the public skool sistem.

  3. Let’s see…there is already a dearth of qualified math teachers, so who is going to teach the extra class? And won’t that add to the school’s payroll? And what will the boys learn that the girls won’t, and vice versa? And those pesky “word problems” in math – will the boys learn to figure the speed of a bullet train as it covers 500 miles in 2.3 hours as opposed to the girls learning how to convert a recipe for chicken kiev for four to one that will feed 60?

    Or maybe the principal and superintendent are just afraid of the girls out-performing the boys if they’re kept in the same class. After all, that would negatively effect the boys’ self esteem.

  4. Queen:

    the selfesteem thing may be the reason. Mr. Francis may have had his ass whipped in Trig by a young lady and this is payback.

  5. I’ve heard the pros and cons on the subject of segregation, whether by age, gender, sexual orientation, and I’m simply not convinced. There are some positives indeed, but we are trying to live in an integrated society outside and this can’t be a helpful approach. If we can justify seperating folks by the criteria above can we, might we, one day segregate based on political affiliation, family background, health, etc.?

    All in all, I think Bron hit it closest to the mark with the response to Queen.

  6. The current sexy theory of in-school education is to remove the boys so that girls won’t be so distracted.

    Personally, I’d much rather see a focus on retooling teaching strategies to address the real issues. Sexual segregation addressed no real issue.

    How about separating students based on ability? Or is that too difficult a concept?

  7. I don’t know why this guy is doing it, but hasn’t there been LOTS of concern about the phenomenon of girls dumbing themselves down at a certain age? So they won’t become unfemininely “smarter” than the boys? Besides the well-known phenom. of teachers paying more attention to boys in the classroom anyway/already? Not only are the boys less distracted by the girls, but maybe the girls are also less distracted by the boys??? I find it interesting that almost all the responses so far (7 so far) are assuming an intent to put the girls down, when it could absolutely turn out to even the playing field in their favor!

  8. Let’s keep those darned left handed students segregated from right handers. They present a distraction by holding their arms in a funny way while writing and they’re always complaining about things not suitable for their alleged “special needs” like scissors and stuff. Let’s have seperate classes for right-handers and left-handers.

  9. Chimene,

    Your argument assumes that by nature girls will tend to demure to what boys society wants.

    The unfortunate truth of the matter is that most things outside the norm are viewed as negatives in high school, higher intelligence is no exception. That tends to apply as much to boys as girls.

  10. When I read the article and before I even got to the comments my head went to exactly the same place as Chimene’s comment did. While I’m anti-segregation for the sake of argument I can defend the virtue (at the college level which would be entirely voluntary) in having your child spend part of their college years in a sexually or racially segregated college from the point of exposing them to strong role models from their own sex or race.

    Exposing them (for their first 2 years of college education) to a ‘world’ where ‘they’ ran things, made all the decisions and maintained a exclusive meritocracy might work well to build self esteem and influence career decisions in keeping with their skills instead of societal preconceptions.

    Gyges post is correct in that high school culture is difficult for anyone falling outside what that particular high schools culture determines to be the norm and destructively so but I can refute (in a convivial and respectful way)the statement “Your argument assumes that by nature girls will tend to demure to what boys society wants.” with very few words: Rhinoplasty, liposuction and boob jobs for high school girls happen every day.

  11. The Chicago Board of Ed made an adjustment from the “Pride Campus” to Social Justice Solidarity High School. Modeled after a School in Milwaukee.

    Instead, Solidarity school aims to address “citywide concerns over violence, bullying and harassment.” The teacher in Milwaukee says, “They find it to be a place where they can be themselves,” and “it’s a safe place.” A school grounded on tolerance, where kids can develop, terrific!

  12. Gyges,

    “The unfortunate truth of the matter is that most things outside the norm are viewed as negatives in high school, higher intelligence is no exception. That tends to apply as much to boys as girls.”

    That is so stunningly and sadly true.

  13. The truth when it comes to studies in social science is that they too often achieve the results the researcher started out to find. With that perspective I take the preliminary studies on segregating the sexes in school with a large shaker of salt. Let’s pull back a tad and view the problem with this educational nonsense.

    Elementary, Middle and High Schools exist not only to provide education, but to provide socialization in the sense of learning to live together. All boy and all girl schools delay the progress of socialization and in fact retard maturity in both sexes. As proof, rather than offer professional studies, I offer the experiences of all of us who spent our public education in coed schools. Much of my time in school was not a happy one, but the experience, painful as it was, provided me with the rudiments of social behavior and the familiarity of female behavior. If one looks back honestly at the experience I think most would agree, whether they were popular or pariahs.

    I too think Bron had identified something in his post that is at play here. Many who are champions of this kind of segregation have had personal problems and/or prejudices. There is, however, another common sense factor in this.That is as I have alluded school is for more than intellectual indication. The emphasis on school as a quantifiable measure of progress and as preparation for future success, as typified by “no child left behind,” misestimates the growth process.

    A.S. Neil in his masterwork “Summerhill” in the 50’s and Chaim Ginott in the 60’s and 70’s presented a more balanced view of the tasks of growth and the supervision of children. Different children and teens learn and mature at different rates. School systems based on measuring progress by birth date do serious harm to children.

    The shame of our society is our educational systems are modeled on the assembly line and we leave scores of children with potential as casualties of the callousness of the system.
    The US will finally demonstrate that it has left the tough guy/cowboy/independent man philosophy behind, when it fully invests in our school systems. When we provide a high, uniform level of education in every community. One that is based on humane principles that protects and nurtures our children. Instead we have a system that is based on the false premises of Social Darwinism and eugenics.

    Male, female, gay, straight and transgender are all iterations of our humanity. Just as are color, ethnicity and religion. We will leap the chasms between them though when we can learn to interact and appreciate our similarities and dissimilarities. That’s why I too am not fond of the concept of GLBT schools. The idea is to get it right in the general context and protect children from predation by their peers.

    I’m sorry for this rant, since I know I’m just blowing smoke. The possibility of a sane educational system is minuscule as long as people like this school administrator have positions and power, while lacking understanding and the ability to think beyond constraints of conventional wisdom.

  14. Completely unconstitutional for a public school – last I checked separate but equal is NOT the law of the land (Brown V. Board of Education, anyone?). This POS administrator can try, but will cost the district MILLIONS in law suit settlements and, most importantly, will do unmeasurable damage to the academic life of countless young women. This guy is out of his mind.

  15. As someone who labored in Algebra and Geometry, I can attest to the fact that I was much better looking at everything and everyone around me, except for the material. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was all boys in my classes. I would have been drowning with an all boys class or a mixed gender class. These children need to learn how to cooperate with everyone of every gender and race. As long as we don’t have any homogenital sex, the math scores will be fine.

  16. Lotta,

    That’s a very good point, and one I hadn’t considered (mainly because I’ve always lived in areas where nobody could afford that kind of thing). I think there are a couple of things to consider before throwing in “dumbing down” with cosmetic surgery though.

    The first is to just look at the percentages, I know there’s no hard data on pretending to be dumb, but I’m sure that it’s much more frequent than surgery. I’m also sure that it’s just as common for boys as girls. The second is that dumbing down knows no social\economic bounds, I knew rich kids who did it, and I knew poor kids that did it. Cosmetic surgery is a vice of the very wealthy. The final (and I think most important) thing is that by the very nature of the fact that it’s surgery cosmetic surgery requires parental involvement and approval. I don’t know the numbers, but I suspect that a vast majority of teen-age girls who have cosmetic surgery have mothers who had the same surgery. I think that you have to look at how much of the pressure to comes from peers and how much comes from parents. The pressure to fit in by not acting so smart was (in my experience) almost completely from other teenagers.

  17. ‘…Gyges post is correct in that high school culture is difficult for anyone falling outside what that particular high schools culture determines to be the norm and destructively so but I can refute (in a convivial and respectful way)the statement “Your argument assumes that by nature girls will tend to demure to what boys society wants.” with very few words: Rhinooplasty, liposuction and boob jobs for high school girls happen every day.’
    As a physician, I take exception to the last sentence.

    If you intend to suggest even most rhinoplasty, breast surgery, or even liposuction, performed on teenage girls AND boys in the US by ASPS practitioners are, by their very ‘cosmetic’ nature, not only random, frivolous, and therefore, entirely elective, you are quite mistaken.

    It’s simply not so.

  18. Patty,

    I’m going to have to call you on your data for that one. I’ll stipulate that ASPS members do perform a lot of legitimate re-constructive surgeries (as opposed to elective surgery, required surgery – burns, animal attacks, etc.), but as a layman the impression is indeed that the bulk of their business is made up of elective surgery.

  19. A plastics procedure, simply by virtue of its cosmetic nature, would not, and does not, constitute it as ‘entirely’ elective.

    It’s not ‘data’. I meant what I said.

  20. Patty,

    I’m not disagreeing with that. What I want to know is what percentage are elective and what percentage are medically necessary. What you said had to come from somewhere. I’ve read enough of your posts to know you are a person of informed opinion.

  21. You seem to be confusing the term ’emergent’ with the term ‘elective’.

    ‘Medically necessary’ is a judgement call. Two different surgeons might very well make two different judgment calls. We call them
    ‘Second Opinions’.

  22. Jill,

    Thanks! That’s data alright. Straight from the ASPS source.

    And it looks like it works out to be reconstructive surgeries are approximately 30% of all procedures.


    I think that about sums it up.

  23. The discussion was about high schoolers where I took exception to the suggestion that certified ASPS surgeons are casually performing invasive cosmetic procedures on adolescents.

    Without looking, I’ll bet you’ll find the percentages for all ‘cosmetic’ procedures for 13-19 year olds is quite a bit lower than the national total average – which includes all groups.

  24. True, true, but I was really asking about the whole. Since surgery on a minor of any any sort requires parental consent, that concerns a sociological family dynamic that cannot be dealt with by the ASPS except in the most indirect manner if at all. That’s why the aggregate number was of greater interest to me personally.

  25. I should have put an “elective” in from of “surgery on a minor” as to clarify surgery done in emergency circumstances as governed by EMTALA and other relevant law.

  26. As I dig further into this report, it’s impossible to get a total picture of what is done to 13-19 y.o.’s as they only include data based on age for cosmetics and not reconstructive surgery except as related to breast reduction/reconstruction/implant removal, but that being said, it looks like electives to 13-19 y.o. is only 2% of the total electives, thus backing Patty’s initial claim.

    So, in summation, 70% of all ASPS procedures are elective, but only 2% of those are performed on teens.

    What would be really interesting is a geographical breakdown of that data. I’d bet a dollar that 90-95% of that 2% takes place in Los Angeles.

  27. Back in high school in the early 60’s I knew a girl named Caroline. she was a tall beautiful girl with a lither figure, smart with a nice temperament. However, she had a large ugly nose. Nobody saw the beauty of the person, or the beauty of the package, all they saw was her nose. she and I became very close and while I longed to be her boyfriend, being somewhat behind socially I never took that little step and kissed her. We were close enough though that she confessed to me that she worked every day after school, saving for her nose job. I think of her occasionally and hope that she got it. Perhaps then people would look beyond superfluities in judging her.

    My first wife too had a nose job at 16 and people were startled to see that she was beautiful. I’m with Patty on this and my wife and I are hooked on the plastic surgery reality shows, even though neither of us needs nor wants any work done. It’s true Buddha that many misuse plastic surgery, that’s why I watch these shows, in the belief that if only they can perfect their bodies through surgery they will rid themselves of their ghosts. While that is a pipe dream in my opinion, no doubt people can follow many paths towards inner peace and I really can’t judge their decisions

  28. Mike S,

    “[T]he belief that if only they can perfect their bodies through surgery they will rid themselves of their ghosts. While that is a pipe dream in my opinion, no doubt people can follow many paths towards inner peace and I really can’t judge their decisions.”

    You have captured my one and only objection to plastic surgery with that statement – when it leads people to more misery by misadventure or mistake as to what is truly making a person unhappy. Other than that, I have to say it’s a personal decision. As for any aesthetic consideration, well, a sense of aesthetics is a lot like a sense of humor, isn’t it? One man’s trash is another’s treasure.

    Personally I’ll take dealing with an “ugly” person with a beautiful soul rather than the inverse any day of the week. It has also been my experience that no amount of exterior ugly can hide true inner beauty, while the inverse cannot always be said. We are visual creatures and that comes with it’s own limitations. That’s why that third eye is so important, no? It’s harder to deceive. I’ve known some physically beautiful people who have the blackened and charred souls of the damned. That was a lesson I learned at considerable personal cost. It is no hyperbole to say it almost cost me my life. It is a lesson I take very seriously.

  29. Buddha,
    I agree that many people use plastic surgery to instantly remove emotional problems, that can’t be removed that way. We live in a culture that has been propagandized to believe that we find cures for all our ills by buying or paying for something. It is a pipe dream for many and does lead to further misery.

    Part of the reason I stopped doing Psychotherapy was that many of my patients wanted me to cure them, rather than putting in the work of curing themselves. I became a psychotherapist after putting in five hard years of my own therapy and I did the work and learned to make the changes needed to give me happiness and become aware. I was serious about my change and realized that a therapist was like a yoga instructor, who could show you how, but it was you who had to do the actual work.

    Many people have these procedures as a shortcut to solving their perceived problems, rather than making the hard effort needed to solve them. However, for some, especially women living in this youth/beauty obsessed society a nose job can make a difference how others perceive them.

    As to your other points I hear you. A girlfriend of a friend said to my father once”I’m small but I come in a pretty package” He replied “So does poison.” In love and friendship beauty is nice, but the soul is most important. Also too have you notices that the looks of people you get to know become prettier or uglier, based on your evolving perception of the person they are?

  30. “have you notices that the looks of people you get to know become prettier or uglier, based on your evolving perception of the person they are?”

    That is so true!

  31. Mike S.,

    Speaking of uglier the more you get to know them, what did you think of Jindal last night?

    I think the differences in delivery summed up the party line. Obama speaks to us like we’re adults whereas the GOP’s boy talks to us like we’re mentally challenged second graders. The kind you can steal their lunch money unchallenged. A buddy I talked to after the speech said, “I guess that exorcism thing didn’t work out to well for Jindal because I swear he was channelling Mr. Rogers.” Jindal ALWAYS talks that way. It just goes to show, you can read all the books required to be a Rhodes Scholar and still not understand them. Then again, he does have a lot of coonasses to deal with so maybe that’s a mitigating factor.

  32. Buddha,
    Glad you asked about Jindal. My wife and I watched him in astonishment last night. He uses the kind of delivery that bespeaks and adult patronizing a young child. While I’ve heard snatches of him speaking, this was the first time I’ve heard him make a speech. Not only is he an annoying speaker but the speech was dishonest in so many ways of which we’re both aware. The Disneyland to Las Vegas train for instance. LA and Vegas would be a perfect route for a high speed mag-Lev train. It would reduce air travel and highway travel, thus reducing a lot of pollution. High Speed rail is the way of the future and the US is at least 15 years behind other countries in use and technology. Ridiculing it is the mark of someone so besotted by ideology and partisanship as to disqualify him for any serious political position.

    When that tool talked about education though, the bile rose to my throat. Louisiana is either ranked 49th, or 50th in education, so there is nothing for him to be proud of. However, that ranking may explain his popularity and election there. As you said:

    “he does have a lot of coonasses to deal with so maybe that’s a mitigating factor.”

  33. A little help here; please?

    In Re: The State Of The Union (genuine and technically not)

    1. Am I the only one who’s beginning to see Obama as more puffery than substance? Am I wrong to doubt him?

    2. The republican response; what the hell was that? Am I the only one who thought it sounded like a patronizing audio book for children?

    3. The seating arrangements for these addresses: Anyone ever wonder what happens to the displaced representatives when SCOTUS, the Senate and other cabinet members take their seats?

  34. Bob,

    1) No. Until war crimes trials start, he is squarely in the doubt column. Actions speak louder than words.

    2) Covered it.

    3) See the experiments of Erwin Schrödinger.

  35. Buddha,

    Where did you cover the patronizing child audio book


    Schrodinger’s cat is in fact dead; I checked personally.

    Too bad it was an atheist.

  36. Bob,

    I covered patronizing just above, although I did not cover the specific form of audio books.

    As to Schrödinger, I believe the displaced are kept in a tensor-wait state.

  37. Thank you Buddha and Mike for re-establishing my inertial frame of reference.

    I DID hear what I thought I heard.

    Well, it’s back to hating everyone and everything again; excepting present company of course.

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