Greene County is poised to divide public schools by gender, but a court challenge is likely.
But for too many of the kids in Greensboro, Ga., says resident David Neal, strutting, preening, and dating have superseded geometry and literature lessons as the real reason to get up for school every morning.
With those viewpoints as bookends, a bold plan to segregate Greene County schools by gender has divided a district long known for abysmal test scores and high dropout rates.
The question now confronting school leaders here on the shores of Lake Oconee is one that could face other small, poor, and minority schools both in and beyond the South: Is it advisable, or even legal, to mandate single-sex education, even when research shows that students' academic performance could improve when taught in such a setting?
The Greene County School District is among the top per-pupil spenders in Georgia. Yet on local benchmark assessment tests, high school students here, on average, get only about half the questions right on subjects ranging from social studies to algebra.
At the same time, 30 percent of students, mostly boys, drop out of school before graduation. Greene County ranks 332nd among Georgia's 369 schools in terms of grades.