The Packer Collegiate Institute: A Story of Education in Brooklyn

The Move to Coeducation

The Move to Coeducation

In 1972, the board of The Packer Collegiate Institute decided to make the school fully coeducational. For an institution that began its history devoted to the cause of providing female education, the decision to become coeducational was based on both financial considerations and the larger movement toward coeducation in American high schools and colleges.

Packer trustees had been inching toward the goal of full coeducation prior to the 1970s. Kindergarten through grade four was made coeducational in 1942, potentially in response to declining enrollments during World War II.

At a meeting of the Packer trustees on January 10, 1972, the decision was made to extend coeducation through to grade eight. During this same meeting, trustees also voted to form a committee dedicated to studying the feasibility of extending coeducation up to grade twelve. In a letter addressed to the parents of Packer students, the members of the board of trustees justified these changes by stating, “The decisions to coeducate [sic] the Middle School and to explore the feasibility of extending coeducation into the Academic School are consistent with Packer’s 127-year history of responding to the needs of the times. . . These “needs of the times” included the preferred trend toward coeducation by both educational theorists and practitioners, and the increasing preference for coeducational opportunities among students and their parents, who paid tuition fees.

The Packer study on coeducation, published in June 1972, recommended that Packer incorporate coeducation throughout its school. The recommendation was based, in part, on surveys that found Packer students, parents, and faculty to all be in favor of the initiative. Coeducation also promised to help alleviate lagging enrollment, and the financial difficulties that accompanied it. The report’s authors also noted that coeducation could benefit both the academic and social experience of Packer’s female students.

Based on this report, Packer’s board of trustees voted in favor of coeducation up to grade twelve, to be implemented for the 1973-1974 academic year.

Letter from John B. Madden (President, The Board of Trustees) and John F. Skillman, Jr. (Packer President) to Packer Parents, 1972/01/11

Letter from John B. Madden (President, The Board of Trustees) and John F. Skillman, Jr. (Packer President) to Packer Parents, 1972/01/11Full record

Related documents
  • Report of the Packer President to Trustees, 1971-1972

  • The Packer Collegiate Institute Board of Trustees meeting minutes, 1972