Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)

Since 1997, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has been the foremost legislative advocate of single-sex public education. Her greatest achievement in this regard has been to bring leading Democrats "on board." In the summer of 2001, Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland joined Senator Hutchison (and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine) in crafting suitable language to establish single-sex education as fully "legal" in the United States. When Senator Hutchison introduced Senate Amendment 540 on the floor of the Senate on June 7, 2001, her amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Hillary Clinton, Susan Collins, Barbara Mikulski, and Thomas Carper. The Senate adopted her amendment by unanimous consent. The House of Representatives had no comparable provision in their version of the education bill, but Senator Hutchison's amendment was included in the final version of the bill signed into law by President Bush on January 8.

Senator Hutchison's amendment became subsections 5131(a)(23) and 5131(c) of the new bill. Subsection 5131(a)(23) of the new law states that "funds made available to local educational agencies under section 5112 shall be used for . . . programs to provide same gender schools and classrooms, consistent with applicable law." Subsection 5131(c) of the new Act reads: "Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Secretary shall issue guidelines for local educational agencies seeking funding for programs described in subsection (a)(23)."

President Bush signed the law on January 8, 2002. On May 8, 2002 -- exactly 120 days after the date of enactment of the bill, i.e. on the last possible day -- the Department of Education released a Notice of Intent to Regulate, which initiates the process of rewriting the regulations governing single-sex education in public schools. The proposed new regulations were finally published on March 9, 2004. You can read more about the new regulations here.

Click here to read "The Odd Couple," an essay published in the Summer 2002 issue of The Women's Quarterly, exploring the unique alliance between Senator Hutchison and Senator Clinton, and the politics of single-sex public education.


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