Know the Score!

September 07, 2011

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a staunch advocate for transparency in government, once said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” As we approach the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a different light shines to reveal gender inequity in high school athletics — the light from a computer monitor.

Girls ages 15–17 from five Chicago high schools are investigating and reporting publicly whether their schools are complying with Title IX’s athletic equity requirements by publishing their findings online. “We are youth investigating whether or not our schools and communities are treating girls fairly when it comes to sports,” proclaims the website Fair Shot. These students understand that transparency can lead to social action to cure gender discrimination in education. Their efforts are quite similar to those promoted in AAUW’s Title IX Compliance: Know the Score Program in a Box.

Community action is needed because many schools still fail to comply with Title IX. In November 2010, a complaint was filed against 12 school districts with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Chicago Public Schools was one of the districts named in the complaint, which alleged that the total number of girls’ sports teams decreased from 830 in 2004 to 132 in 2006.

To shed more light on these numbers, AAUW supports the passage of the High School Athletics Accountability Act (H.R. 458) and the High School Data Transparency Act (S. 1269), which would require all high schools to publicly report data on girls’ and boys’ athletic opportunities, resources, and funding. Although colleges and universities already report this kind of data to the Department of Education, no such reporting requirement exists to help enforce Title IX in high schools. Requiring schools to publicly report data is a proactive way to assist communities in organizing to enforce Title IX standards outside of the courtroom.

In the meantime, Chicago students are taking the matter into their own hands. This is just the type of activism I believe Brandeis envisioned would change the world for the better.

Erin Prangley By:   |   September 07, 2011

2 Comments

  1. erinprangley erinprangley says:

    Charlotte, You’re absolutely right that Title IX, commonly known for creating opportunities for women and girls in athletics, affects all areas of education. Your examples of other programs — such as girls’ access to speech and debate programs would also be covered under Title IX. Additionally, the Dept. of Ed’s Office of Civil Rights has made it clear that administrators must work to prevent sexual harassment in schools to comply with Title IX. Title IX has made it possible for women to pursue careers as lawyers, doctors, mechanics, scientists and professional athletes. AAUW has a great position paper on the full scope of Title IX if you are interested: http://www.aauw.org/act/issue_advocacy/actionpages/upload/TitleIX_111.pdf

    The sports connection to Title IX is just one indicator of gender equity in schools. But, it is an important indicator. There is a growing field of study which shows that girls who have opportunity in sports have a better chance at improvements to educational, work and health. A summary of the research is here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/as-girls-become-women-sports-pay-dividends/ and will be included in the updated AAUW position paper soon.

  2. Avatar Charlotte Pfefer says:

    Sports are all well and good BUT seriously how many people actually become pro-athletes? Too BAD there’s not Federal funding for activities that promote skills far more people actually use in their adult life such as funds for competitive speech and debate programs..but alas since the US far more values it’s “jocks” than its academics this will never happen. Sad THAT!

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