The West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union recently sent a letter to several county school superintendents - including Wood's - demanding they end gender-based classes currently being offered at schools in their counties. According to the ACLU, gender-based classes are a violation of federal law and are based on faulty science and outdated stereotypes concerning how boys and girls learn.
While there was no mention of court action, obviously the threat of a lawsuit always looms when the ACLU is involved.
In Wood County, VanDevender is the only school offering gender-based classes. Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law on Tuesday told Wood County Board of Education members he does not believe the school system is violating federal laws but will seek legal counsel to look into the matter before responding to the ACLU letter.
Law said Vandy's program follows guidelines issued in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Education for same-sex classes. The local program is based on the work of Leonard Sax, a national advocate and expert on same-sex and gender-based classrooms. Sax was brought in to help train Vandy's teachers at the beginning of the program.
In 2010, VanDevender was given approval for same-sex classes in the core subjects - math, science, social studies and reading language arts, with an evaluation at the end of two years, as is required by law. Vandy officials will present a final report on the success of these past two years, but according to Law, preliminary reports show the school has seen improvements in test scores, better attendance numbers and fewer disciplinary problems.
If it is shown the school system has followed the federal guidelines and if numbers show these gender-based classes are actually working for students at the school, school officials should ignore the ACLU's threat.
Getting students interested in learning will keep kids in school and, hopefully, end the atrocious drop-out rate here in West Virginia.
That should be everyone's goal - including the ACLU's.