Eagle Academy For Young Men Of Newark, New Jersey's Only All-Boys Public School, Elicits Praise, Criticism

Last month marked the grand opening of the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark, the city’s first and only public, single-sex school.

The academy is one of Newark’s newest public schools and is part of an effort to transform the district by closing underperforming schools, replacing principals and opening new schools boasting innovative programs.

The Star-Ledger reports that while the all-boys school is run by Newark's school district, it is supported by the New York City-based Eagle Academy Foundation, which provides resources and community programs to three all-boys institutions in New York in addition to Newark’s Eagle Academy. According to the state Department of Education, the foundation’s schools boasted a high school graduation rate of 87 percent in 2010, compared with Newark’s 61 percent in 2011.

Many parents have praised the type of education their sons are receiving at Eagle Academy, telling the Star-Ledger the setting is conducive to the boys focusing on their studies.

The school also includes an 8-5 schedule during the week, with four hours of classes on Saturdays.

Not all are on board with segregating boys from girls in the classroom, however. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey maintains that if Eagle Academy’s rigorous curriculum holds such promise, it should not be limited to one gender.

A Newark public schools spokesperson says, however, that the district intends to open an all-girls school in September.

Meanwhile, officials say Eagle Academy will eventually include grades 6-12. According to the school’s website, it currently serves two incoming classes in the sixth and seventh grades, amounting to around 160 students.

While single sex public schools are still uncommon, single-sex classes have been on the rise since 2006, when the U.S. Education Department eased restrictions. According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, only about a dozen schools separated boys and girls in 2002. Now, an estimated 500 public schools nationwide offer some all-boy and all-girl classrooms.

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