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August 30, 2006

Gender Equality in the Classroom

Martha Burk wrote a diatribe in Ms. Magazine, lamenting the fact that only history buffs and feminists celebrate Women's Equality Day. She also blasts Albany, NY for setting up charter schools that separate kids by gender - a boys' elementary school and a girls' elementary school. She thinks this is a clear sign that girls aren't being taken seriously.

As a woman who went to co-ed public schools throughout my youth and attended a private women's college, I take extreme issue with her accusations. First of all, I oppose charter schools on simple grounds: they take money away from real public schools and they force teachers and other school employees to work without unions. And while it is a shame that only the boys school got a new building, since I don't know the town - maybe the girls' building wasn't in need of improvement. Further, single gender education can be extremely helpful to both boys and girls.

Trust me, it's not to take away sexual distractions. Hetero kids will always find a way to commingle and queer kids will create enough drama in a single gender environment to make you forget it isn't co-ed. Not that I expect this to be an issue in elementary schools, but I did want to clear the air for everyone re high school and college settings.

The fact is that males and females generally respond better to different forms of teaching. This isn't always true; but just look at how many parents hold their sons back from kindergarten because he's immature and small for his age - they figure by starting a year later, he'll have a leg up on the competition. And they justify this by saying that boys take longer to mature than girls. If parents recognize fundamental differences between their kids, why can't schools accommodate for those differences?

I am a staunch feminist and believe that feminism is the radical idea that women and men are equal. That does not make us the same. I had a high school English teacher who favored the male students in my class. It was partially to avoid such bias that I ultimately chose Wellesley as my college of choice. And while I had many bumps in my educational road, I do not regret giving up the company of men in my classrooms. After all, I saw plenty of them in my off hours.

Posted by cj at 5:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2006

Class in America

Oprah - or her 11:00pm rerun - is on Class in America. She glosses over the extreme difficulty in changing class; applauds people who grabbed their bootstraps (and perhaps their good looks) and got themselves an expensive car. I watched the whole thing. I'm not clear why. It's not like I learned anything new. Econ classes, and the NYT series on the same subject told me more hard facts.

I don't understand how Robert Reich kept saying that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but didn't also admit that the middle class is disappearing. Perhaps b/c of his final statement - that class disparity and feeling that you can't get ahead lead to great upheavals in society. Could it be? Are we really on the edge of mass activism for social and political change? One can only hope that the nonviolent sea change is coming.

Posted by cj at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2006

Petition for US Jews

Sign the Petition for U.S. Jewish Solidarity with Muslim and Arab Peoples of the Middle East

Below is the comment I left with my signature:

As a Jewish woman I find the actions of the US and Israeli governments unconscionable. I am the Program Chair of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section (WILPF US). WILPF has sections in Palestine, Lebanon, and Israel and the US Section has a national campaign - Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East, which focuses on US policy regarding Israel / Palestine. It is not for me to decide whether a one state or two state solution is ultimately chosen. It is my duty as a US citizen to denounce US collusion in Israel's current war of aggression, murder of civilians and destruction of civil infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza. Israel's war on its neighbors is also causing Israeli civilian deaths. It is past time for the US to stop its unconditional support of Israel.

WILPF US homepage


WILPF International homepage (includes updates from the region)

Posted by cj at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)