Jewish World Review May 13, 2002 / 2 Sivan, 5762

Joe Bob Briggs

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Consumer Reports


Finally, boys' schools will stop being whupped upside the head


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (UPI) The White House just decided to reinterpret Title IX and say that it's OK to have all-boys schools and all-girls schools.

Well, thanks a lot for telling us this after all the great boys and girls schools have been wiped out by 30 years of litigation, protest, government manipulation and general all-round meddling to the point of most teachers and principals saying, "Oh he-l, it's not worth it."

Actually, a lot of the girls schools have managed to survive but boys have been whupped upside the head every time it's become an issue.

How many times have you read about a military school -- not even a public military school -- that had to spend millions on legal fees explaining why they didn't want Cadet Brenda to come there and get de-pantsed during Freshman Hell Week and be forced to endure the indignities of the traditional Donkey Doo-Doo Mudslide Dunk?

That's not what they say, of course. What they say is that a girl will be "disruptive to the traditions of the school." The fact is, you just can't explain to a girl why the Donkey Doo-Doo Mudslide Dunk is an essential part of the whole Sam Houston Military Institute experience. They do things at military schools that make the boys break down sobbing, but with boys that just results in additional Mudslide Therapy until they learn to toughen up, buck up, and get that pants crease perfect. With a girl it results in a lawsuit.

Then there's all the great women's athletic programs that were wiped out by Title IX. For example, the fabulous Wayland Flying Queens, the girls basketball team at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Texas, had dominated both AAU and NCAA competition since the 1940s, but as soon as Title IX came into being in the early '70s, they faded so quickly into history most women's basketball players today don't even know who they were.

What they were is the Harlem Globetrotters of their day, traveling the country on their chartered plane, conducting dribbling and ball-handling exhibitions before every game, and basically instilling pride in their community, which donated funds for the plane, the uniforms, everything. And then the government said, nope, you can't do that anymore, and furthermore we're gonna force universities that don't even care about women's basketball to spend more than you could ever raise in a lifetime so all those whiz-kid country gal set-shot experts from rural Kansas will start attending the University of Tennessee instead.

Maybe that's good for the University of Tennessee, but it doesn't seem fair to force a bigger school to do something it had no interest in until Title IX came along.

Then there's all those "Lean On Me" schools we used to have in the Southwest -- one of them was called Boys Town -- where "troubled juveniles" were sent to learn how to pop the heads off rattlesnakes, dig latrines and write to their mothers once a week. These places were so popular that a lot of juvenile court judges started giving kids a choice: "Three years hard time, or two years in Father Rambo's Tumbleweed Jungle." More often than not, it actually worked much better than a kid trying to get "counseling" in a reform school.

But as soon as girls were introduced, you had to lighten up on the discipline -- with the presence of the girls creating more discipline problems! One by one, they all went out of business.

Now the government is saying: Hey, these single-sex schools aren't so bad, and as long as you provide equal facilities for both sexes, then have at it. But separate-but-equal is exactly what we already had before Title IX.

Harvard, for example, didn't admit women until 1970, but part of the reason they didn't admit women is that they had Radcliffe right next door. Earlier this year they just folded Radcliffe entirely, made it some kind of sub-unit of a sub-department of Harvard -- in other words, turning its alumnae into second-class citizens! -- while all the Radcliffe daughters said, "Well, foo on that, I'll just head for the Seven Sisters."

Speaking of which, by some convoluted legal doctrine that I never understood, most of the all-female colleges were able to stay female through the '80s and '90s because judges consistently ruled in their favor when they got sued.

The judges decided that, yes, an infusion of males would disrupt the educational process -- especially at the "all lesbian, all the time" schools, you know who you are, don't make me go there! -- without stating exactly why the testosterone was dangerous to the school.

There was talk of "distractions" and "female empowerment" and theories of why girls tended to speak up more in class if there weren't all these boys around -- in other words, the same arguments the all-male schools made, sometimes in the same legal jurisdictions, but with much less successful results. (I would say the boys school batting average was about . . . uh . . . zero!)

What you could have done 30 years ago is take any junior-high teacher with at least 10 years experience and asked them the following questions: Do boys and girls learn differently?

Sometimes.

Do boys function better in isolation from girls?

Some do, yes.

Do girls function better in isolation from boys?

Some do, yes.

So what would you suggest?

Have boys schools for the boys that need it, girls schools for the girls who need it, and coed schools for the boys and girls who need that.

You see, those dang mealy mouthed teachers always talk in vague convoluted hedge-your-bets circles like this, because they've noticed over the years that every student is unique. Flawed in unique ways. Gifted in unique ways. Distracted in unique ways. Motivated in unique ways.

You could have just left it to the teachers to do triage on the little monsters, left the all-male and all-female schools alone, and we wouldn't have had a generation and a half of limited choices. There's a boy out there somewhere who missed out on the whole Donkey Doo-Doo Mudslide Dunk experience, and that bothers me.



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