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.