However do think that they students can benefit from being split up during middle and highschool. Why? Because of sex.
I don't care if teenagers have sex, I'm not a prude. I remember very well that they do, and there is nothing we can do to stop them. In fact, I went to a single sex school. All girls, catholic, uniforms, blah blah naughty male fantasy blah blah. And nobody had any trouble getting laid.
I remember in high school I'd occasionally go out with public school kids, and they'd recoil with horror, "how do you go to single sex school, how BORING what do you DO all day."
Shockingly, we learned stuff.
Without the distraction of flirting during school hours us ladies were able to show up, sans makeup and actually get some actual learning done. This is not to say that it is impossible to learn in a co ed environment, it is demonstrably not. But for some girls I think having the opportunity to focus on school without having to worry about the guy they liked sitting behind them was a big benefit. And I can imagine that guys would reap similar benefits. (Though I am not a guy, so...yeah)
I've heard arguments that single sex school makes it harder for the students to interact with members of the opposite sex. But in my experience, areas with a lot of single sex schools (St. Louis, where I grew up, being one) have a lot of co ed extracurriculars. Tons of events are created simply for the purpose of having different schools get to gether so guys and girls are able to mingle. Theaters open auditions to members of the opposite sex from other schools. There are even cross over classes in some schools, my school offered Latin III with another nearby guys school. And another area girls school had joint group projects with nearby guys schools, making the two genders work together on occasion.
So you go to school, all day and learn, and then AFTER school you flirt. I think this is a good plan. It takes some of the sexual focus away from school. Not that school shouldn't be social, after all, students need to learn to work together, but we all know how distracting having a crush can be, or wanting to flirt with someone, or impress someone. Taking those people away (for the straight folks at least) will help minimize the sex related distractions.
This is mentioned in the slate article Jill links to breifly. But I think it is more important than they realize. I think Most teenagers are distracted by attraction to others. It's a distracting thing, and I presume it has something to do with hormones, but I could be wrong. Another thing they mention breifly:
Proponents of single-sex education would protest that their approach gives
children more latitude to carve out a distinctive identity. Removing "the other"
from the classroom can help kids conceive of themselves as individuals rather
than as members of a gender.
This, to me is very personal. Because that has been my experience. I don't think of myself as a girl, I think of myself as a person, who happens to have female genetalia. I think the biggest effect my gender has on me, is making me a feminist, because I feel (now, I never did in highschool) that I am being pushed into traditional gender roles that I don't identify with. Now maybe that's just because I'm a masculine girl, that could be argued, I suppose. But I think it is because I am independant of gender classifications. I do girly things because I like them, not because I'm supposed to, and I do guy things because I like them, not because I'm trying to be a guy. It's not about gender, it's about doing what you enjoy and being who you are.
But ultimately I think schools should be a choice. A single sex school wont be a better place for a kid if it is a bad single sex school. Parents should be able to evaluate the schools and choose based on a free market type system. They know their child best, and know what kind of environments they will thrive in so they should be the "decider"s when it comes to their kid.
(Edited at 3:30, for content)