Separate in Education

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The contention by the presidents of Maryland's historically black colleges and universities about the need for their schools rings false [Close to Home, Feb. 17].

Asserting that U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom failed "to understand that a main object of the civil rights movement was to enhance educational opportunities for [blacks] by eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing their educational institutions" is nothing short of revisionism.

The 1992 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Fordice did not hurt historically black colleges and universities. It upheld Title IV, on desegregation of public education, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There is no debate that historically black institutions have been permitted to escape adherence to Title IV specifically because they are black. What's more, they have escaped penalty while their proponents viciously castigate other institutions for lacking diversity.

It displays hubris of gargantuan proportions when those chastising Ms. Thernstrom insist that the federal government support further violation of Title IV.

Advocating race-based privileges that favor blacks while vehemently opposing nonblack enterprises doing the same is having it both ways.



Project 21



People should be wary of one-sided arguments that boys' and girls' brains are so different that it is necessary to segregate the sexes in school. The Feb. 20 KidsPost article "Separate and Equal" recited the brain difference propaganda of the single-sex advocates as fact and neglected to cite even one critique of these programs.

The facts say something different. In an extensive 2005 review of the data on single-sex schools, the Education Department concluded that there is no clear evidence that students are more likely to have greater post-secondary academic success after being segregated by sex in elementary, middle or high school.

The time and money wasted on these radical, experimental programs, where boys are treated one way and girls another, would be better spent on what we know works, such as improved funding, smaller classes and greater parental involvement.

One of the great strengths of our public schools is the opportunities they provide students to learn from those who are different from themselves. Boys and girls are shortchanged when these opportunities are closed down.


Deputy Director, Women's Rights Project

American Civil Liberties Union

New York

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