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As I stated in last issue’s column (Feb. 1), American Way has become devoted to bringing you stories of consequence from all walks of life. We want to entertain and amuse, yes, but we also strive toward educating and informing our readers about the goings-on in the world we serve. In the last issue, I discussed the impact that a story about experimental multiple sclerosis treatment had on talk-show host Montel Williams. Recently, I’ve received letters from travelers and flight attendants who appreciated our shedding light on the underworld of human trafficking. And a story we ran that highlighted an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous for those trying to stop drinking spurred a spirited conversation within Americanwaymag.com’s comments section.
Another topic we’ve increasingly highlighted is education. From alternative forms of learning, like the West Philadelphia High School Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering, to the best colleges in the country that you may have never heard of, such as St. Olaf and Occidental, our coverage has been vast and varied. Similarly, in this issue, we have an important education story titled “Pink School/Blue School” (page 52). I am still shocked by the content, even though I’ve covered education in the past and thought I had heard it all.
All-boys and all-girls schools aren’t unique. Nor are they new. I attended an all-boys preparatory school for three years, and I met scores of classmates who were second-, third- and even fourth-generation legacies. The debate about whether single-sex schools genuinely make smarter students has been around since the founding of the first American schools in the 17th century. In fact, the question of gender segregation was a talking point for the Rev. John Cotton, who helped found the Boston Latin School in Boston in 1635. That was the first public school in the land now known as the United States. Boston Latin School is still a functioning public school, just like it was 376 years ago.
But here in 2011, there’s a new educational use for your tax dollars. If you hadn’t heard of same-sex public schools before (and I was one such person who hadn’t), consider yourself informed.
When senior editor Anna Fialho pitched this story in our editorial meeting, the editors all looked at her oddly. “Did you say, ‘same-sex public schools?’” went the refrain. I had no idea such institutions were possible, let alone legal. I should mention that although the editors formed their own opinions about this educational trend, none of our opinions mattered for the sake of the story. Since we’re not taking a stance on same-sex public schools, and because this story is devoid of politics, we are hoping that someone, somewhere will pick up the beat and do some serious, nonpartisan research into this use of taxpayer dollars. What are the measurable benefits? What are the missteps? What are the social implications? What are the legal ramifications? And what sort of precedent does this set for other types of educational segregation? So many questions. America needs journalists to grab the baton and find the answers. Consider this column a challenge to journalists and pundits to start a serious conversation.
Of course, we don’t want to torment your mind for too much of your trip, so when you’re ready for a good mindless read (sorry, Joe Guinto), read Joseph Guinto’s ridiculously funny Spanx story on page 34.
This issue of American Way will indeed make you think. However, if the subjects of Paul Kix’s story have their way (page 30), you won’t remember any of this issue at all.