Segregate to educate!

The Bush administration is clearing the way for single-sex schools. Why stop there?


Jennifer Foote Sweeney
May 17, 2002 11:16PM (UTC)

Education Secretary Rod Paige said he wants to revise federal regulations on single-sex education, giving the public 60 days to comment on what sorts of programs should be allowed. Paige's move could pave the way for more single-sex schools and classes, while removing the legal cloud that hands over existing ones.

-- Associated Press, Thursday, May 9, 2002

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To: Rod Paige

From: The Public

Re: Sorts of Programs That Should Be Allowed

Dear Rod,

Those single-sex schools are a great idea for the young kids -- it's about time we stopped with the gender-role shenanigans. But come middle school and high school, Rod, you're going to want to wake up and smell the hormones. At that point, your segregation is going to need some fine-tuning. At that point, Rod, America's teenagers need to attend single-clique schools.

To wit:

Stoner High
No facilities needed beyond a parking lot, plywood skateboad ramps and a vending machine. Field trips redundant. Academic emphasis on political science, cartooning and fashion design. Phowl, the school jam band, is open to all students prepared for heavy tour schedule. Footbag and hacky-sack tutors available at no extra cost.

Goofy Immature Guys With Great Jokes Prep
Dress code probably necessary, hygiene checks a must. No formal P.E. -- credit given instead for sporadic exercise in the form of poking, slapping, exaggerated facial expression and falling down. Standard curriculum to be supplemented with classes in table manners, daily sessions of occupational therapy and frank discussions about sex. All male faculty must have material funnier than students, on-air credits a plus.

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Thespi Hall
Only campus with full-time analyst. No audition necessary, but students must be tested for complete lack of self-consciousness and limited sense of personal space. Classes to be held in windowless rooms with brushed-denim couches, each designed to accommodate a puppy pile of a dozen students. Spontaneous hugging, crying, chasing, singing or leaving in a huff will be tolerated in both students and teachers, though the latter should be more pretentious and needy than the former. Celebrity anecdotes, real or imagined, a plus.

Wannabe Tech
Students here are matched with image mentors (girls from the Popular School earning extra credit) and apprentice in chosen envy sectors. Mornings are devoted to mentor service -- errands, phone calls, active listening. Afternoons are filled with grooming, apologizing, lip sync and self-loathing. School libary carries all the baby slicks -- ELLEgirl, Teen Vogue, CosmoGIRL! -- as well as all fanzines currently in print. Students leave school assigned to a painfully remote role model of their choosing. School not responsible for stalking done off-campus.

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Really Smart and Witty, Quiet Girls Academy
Student-teacher ratio is 4-1 on these unmarked campuses, each a warren of homey study carrels designed to accommodate shyness, reading jags and compulsive journaling. Bilingual literary journal (English and French) is published daily and burned by student authors each week in a sarcastic ritual that culminates with cathartic dancing and wine coolers. Students graduate in pairs; admission to certain Ivy League colleges guaranteed with proof of mood disorder. Teachers should be distracted male writers with the skills to handle multiple student crushes with a minimal loss of life.

The Popular School

For girls
Strict background checks precede tryouts, in which current students select new students from a crowd of panicked hopefuls. The chosen must laugh at the rejects to ace the entrance exam. School day consists of artifice refinement, with a focus on icy perk, controlled hysteria, frightening chumminess. Students also are expected to hone -- at school and at home -- their behind-the-scenes skill set: Psychic bullying, complex back-stabbing and exquisitely timed rejection will be practiced constantly with an eye to increasing stamina and eliminating the last traces of empathy before graduation. New shoes required for each day of school, early morning hair blowouts provided on days with humidity above 25 percent.

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For boys
Admission is a process of picking teams; rejects are pushed down or socked in the arm. Classes are confined to field and locker room, with breaks spent driving around. "Stunt students" will be hired (mostly from Goofy Guy Prep) with state learning disability funds to do all academic work and testing. A closed-circuit TV system will allow the Popular boys to watch the Popular girls before a daily vote on hottest, ugliest and easiest. Results are broadcast (at both schools) during lunch. (Menu for boys: pizza and steroids; for girls: laxatives and baby carrots.)

NOTE: Students who do not wish to attend a single-clique school will be encouraged to skip middle school entirely and move on to small, clique-free facilities, providing there are enough students to justify their existence. Those in geographically underrepresented cliques (Goths, Hackers, Hippies), who fail to thrive on a campus devoid of social strata, paranoia and fiendishly nuanced persecution, can apply for charter status and federal support, which will include funding for scholarships and clothing allowances.


Jennifer Foote Sweeney

Jennifer Foote Sweeney, CMT, formerly a Salon editor, is a massage therapist in northern California, practicing on staff at the Institutes for Health and Healing in San Francisco and Larkspur, and on the campuses of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley.

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