Camden may create boys-only third grade class

Posted April 07, 2011, at 9:21 p.m.

CAMDEN — The Camden-Rockport Elementary School might see a boys-only third-grade classroom next year.

“Currently the projection for next year’s third grade is that it is two-thirds male and one-third female. If a single-gender male class were created, then the other three classes would be balanced evenly between boys and girls,” according to minutes from a Thursday morning meeting of Maine School Administrative District 28’s curriculum committee.

“The next steps are to talk with parents and gauge interest in such a class.”

The committee voted 3-0 to recommend to the school board a boys-only class for next year’s third grade.

“We have a veteran teacher who came up with the idea. He wants to take it on. Boys learn differently,” said Assistant Superintendent Michael S. Weatherwax. “Boys really are unique. There are far more boys in special ed, in discipline referrals.”

The committee drew up a seven-page document in support of an all-male classroom.

“Many young men are disengaging from school. Young men are less likely to be valedictorians, to be on the honor roll, and to be active in organizations like student government. Young men are more likely to get D’s and F’s, to be suspended or expelled from school, to drop out of school, and to commit suicide,” the document states. “We are losing young boys to a sense of failure that comes from schooling poorly adapted to their needs.”

The Camden-Rockport Elementary School hopes this will raise academic achievement and confidence in boys and girls while helping them feel better about school in general.

Next year’s third grade has about 70 students who — if this proposal is passed by the school board — will be divided into one boys-only class and three gender-even classes.

Boys for the single-gender class will be selected based on ability level, and behavioral and special needs. Then parents will be informed of their child’s placement.

“I think [parents] will be very interested. And we have a veteran teacher to do it,” Weatherwax said.

The next school board meeting is 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at the elementary school.

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