Fulfilling The Dream: Single Sex Education
Urban Prep Academies, Chicago
What is the most compelling argument for an all boys school, from kindergarten to college?
For those of us involved with urban prep, the most compelling argument for single sex schools is choice. In Chicago, before Urban Prep opened, if parents wanted a single-sex education for their sons, the only options were private and catholic schools. In our view, parents deserve high quality options in public schools and single-sex schools should be among those options. We also believe that there are tremendous opportunities to create positive school cultures and invigorating learning environments in single-sex schools that are not as readily accessible in co-ed schools. For example, the sense of community, family and brotherhood that exists at urban prep would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a coed environment. Further, we can look at data about learning styles of boys and skew our curricula and instruction delivery in that direction. This would also be a challenge in a coed environment.
How did you become involved in all boys education? What did you do before that?
Prior to founding urban prep, I was the president of a catholic boys school in Chicago. Before that, I was a teacher and administrator at a catholic school in Washington, DC while attending law school at Georgetown University at night.
Were you educated in a single-sex school?
No, I was not educated at an all-boys school, but my older brother and father did attend all-boys schools. Again, this speaks to the need for choice. My family had the financial wherewithal to make decisions on what type of schools were best for their children. For my brother, they chose an all-boys school, for me they chose a co-ed school. They made these decisions based on what they thought would be best for us given the individuals that we were/are.
Who were your mentors?
My biggest mentors are my parents. It is no accident that I do what I do given the fact that my mother is a lifelong educator (a career which started with her teaching in a high school in the exact community where urban prep is located and ended with her serving as vice president of a public college) and my father is a successful entrepreneur. I like to think of myself as an educational entrepreneur who has combined what my parents have done with their careers and lives into this new frontier of creating excellent new schools.
What is the future of single-sex schools? Would you send your children or grandchildren to a single sex school?
There’s no doubt in my mind that single-sex schools will always be around. The question really is what is the future of public single-sex schools. And I am optimistic. Each year, more single-sex public schools open and soon enough we will have enough data collected from across the country to demonstrate that these schools do work. The demand among families for this type of education for their children (we had 600 applications for 150 spots this year) and the supply as provided by educational entrepreneurs (we hope to open additional campuses in Chicago and beyond), combined with the research and data proving single-sex public schools’ effectiveness should be enough to make the future very, very bright for these schools. As to whether or not I would send my children or grandchildren to single-sex schools, the short answer is yes (I have an adopted son who attended an all-boys school), but the more precise answer is I hope to be able to send my children and grandchildren to high quality schools that best meet their needs as individuals.#