[EDEQUITY WEEA Projects Dialogue]Some history about WEEA...

From: Hilandia Rendon, EdEquity Moderator (edequity-admin@phoenix.edc.org)
Date: Mon Feb 11 2002 - 10:00:54 EST


The 16 projects funded by the Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) in
2001-2002 build on the legacy of decades of cutting-edge work supported by
this program. Since its inception in 1974, WEEA has promoted gender equity
in education by providing incentives and guidance to schools and community
groups, states, and other entities. Fulfilling its mission of supporting
implementation of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments?the federal law
that prohibits sex discrimination in education?WEEA has funded over 750
field-based initiatives and research on educational equity issues. The
WEEA Program has been a pioneer in funding efforts to address issues of sex
and race, ethnic origin, limited-English proficiency, disability, or age
since one of the principal goals of the program is to promote equity in
education for women and girls who suffer from multiple forms of
discrimination. In fact, Catching Up: A Review of the Women's Educational
Equity Act Program?a national report funded by the Rockefeller Family
Fund?credits WEEA with being a leader in funding programs that do the
following:

Target resources on the educational needs of disabled women (the first
   federal program to do so).
Open math, science and technology courses and careers to women and girls
   and encourage their participation by supporting important programs to
   overcome past stereotyping.
Open doors for girls and women in nontraditional vocational education,
   funding projects to eliminate bias and discrimination against women and
   girls in the trades, apprenticeships, and vocational programs.
Improve educational opportunities and career choices for low-income
   women?to help break the cycle of poverty, unemployment, and
   underemployment of women.
Support programs on double discrimination based on both sex and
   race/ethnicity. (Citizens Council 1984)

WEEA grants have been awarded to schools, universities, community
organizations, and individuals?all playing a key role in developing model
education programs and materials to create a gender equitable society.
These grants have served learners of all ages and in various sites around
the country.

The early years of the WEEA Program focused on awareness of gender equity
issues, career counseling (for women reentering the workforce or
education), recruitment of women into nontraditional occupations, math and
science education, and displaced homemakers. Interestingly, many of the
2001-2002 projects address the same topics though also showing how our
learning has evolved over time. In the next paragraphs, we will only
highlight the three WEEA Grantee's projects, that will be part of our panel
discussion this week. We also welcome, all the WEEA Project, who have been
subscribe to this discussion forum to introduce yourselves and tell us
about you projects. In addition we, welcome our faithful members to
EdEquity to comment, ask questions and provide your continuing support to
gender equity.

Career Education
Expanding Your Options: The Road to the Future in Pierre, South Dakota, is
focusing on training in its career education efforts. The project is
developing train-the-trainer workshops on issues such as creating equitable
classrooms, sexual harassment prevention, conducting equity climate
self-evaluations, and developing life action plans. The project will also
assist the South Dakota school-to-work system by developing models for
equity and career awareness, career exploration, and career planning for
all K-14 students, with an emphasis on developing equitable learning
environments and promoting high-wage careers that lead to self-sufficiency.

The target population is quite broad and includes girls in K-12, pregnant
and parenting teens, school dropouts, alternative school students, single
mothers, and displaced homemakers. There is also an emphasis on serving
Native American and other women and girls of color. Economic and
educational needs are the primary criteria for choosing participants. The
project also serves educators and administrators including classroom
teachers, counselors, school administrators, support staff, personnel at
the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal schools, parents and community
members.

The five-year project (2000-2005) is a collaboration of South Dakota Women
Work!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women from diverse
backgrounds and assisting them to achieve economic self-sufficiency, and
Southeast Technical Institute, a two-year institution whose mission is to
develop and provide high-quality technical education.

Preparation for Higher Education
Although the overall high school dropout rate for women has decreased
significantly in recent years, 23 percent of Latinas dropped out of school
in 1997 (the most recent data available). This compares to 14 percent of
African American women and 7 percent of white women. Moreover, only 10
percent of Latinas 25 years or older have four years or more of college.
The rates are 29 percent for white men, 24 percent for white women, 14
percent for African American women, and about 13 percent for African
American men (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000). There are
three current WEEA grantees ( today we only highlight one of them) are
encouraging Latinas to stay in school and preparing them for higher
education when they graduate.

The program at the University of Texas was the model for the
Mother-Daughter Program at the San Mateo Office for Education. It provides
direct service to 100 participants?50 fifth grade mother-daughter pairs.
The participants are Spanish-speaking, limited English proficient girls and
their mothers from three elementary schools in San Mateo County in the
Redwood City School District (Fair Oaks School, Garfield Charter School,
and the Hawes School). The four-year project (1999-2003) focuses on
building girls' self-esteem, orienting them to higher education and
professional careers, improving the quality of academic preparation for
higher education, and increasing parental commitment through active
involvement in the education of their children and the youth of their
community.

The greatest challenge faced by this project has been maintaining
consistent participation of mothers and daughters in their first year of
the program. It has addressed this challenge in a number of ways,
including having a site coordinator at each school who facilitates the
involvement of students and parents, using the parents' first (home)
language as a means of communicating in meetings, scheduling university
field trips and sessions at which mothers tell their life stories on
Saturdays, and developing alumni "Mother Leaders" who nurture and reinforce
the participation of new mothers.

The project leaders have found that this is a powerful program model that
makes a significant impact on the participants. The girls explore career
options that they had not before even considered. The mothers learn what
they need to do to help their children achieve their academic aspirations.
They also discover that they have something to learn from each other and
that they can pursue their own educational goals.

Leadership Development
Three current WEEA grantees (today we will only highlight one of them) are
working directly with girls and young women to ensure that they recognize
gender inequities?instilling in them the idea that they have the power to
change conditions that prevent them from flourishing in their educational
pursuits.

The Young Women's Leadership Alliance in Santa Cruz, California, is an
effort to engage high school girls at three schools in the Santa Cruz
School District in activities to identify and address gender equity issues.
The five-year project (2000-2005) has three components: building equity
awareness through interactive workshops on the barriers to educational and
career advancement, conducting equity research to measure and document
areas of local inequity, and taking action for equity in which the girls
focus on creating systemic change in their schools based on their research
findings.

The project is a collaboration between Education, Training and Research
Associates, a nonprofit organization, and the Santa Cruz City School
District, Harbor High School, Santa Cruz High School, Soquel High School,
She Rocks, and the Santa Cruz Commission for the Prevention of Violence
Against Women. The program is designed to have an impact at three levels:
the 450 girls directly involved in the leadership groups, all students at
these schools, and the overall school and district policies and actions in
the area of gender equity in education.

The following outcomes are expected for the participants in the program:
assertiveness to speak up about issues of inequity, to be a leader,
and to mentor peers to reach their potential
optimism that they have a range of choices for future careers
self-confidence that they possess marketable skills such as science,
   math, and technology
awareness of inequity; the skills to identify barriers for women,
   cultural minorities, and those with physical disabilities; knowledge of
   how gender; and role attitudes influence options
strategies for overcoming barriers to careers and education
perceptions of support and encouragement, including positive role
   models, adults with women they can talk about equity, and increased
   alliances with other girls

Although only in its second year, early indications show that the project
is meeting its objectives, particularly those related to the girls
themselves. Data collected from participants, including pre- and post-test
surveys, weekly reactions, and interviews with a subgroup after completion
of the program suggest that girls are experiencing an increase in
assertiveness and school leadership as well as marketable skills. It is
still too early to tell about the impact on school climate and school
programs and policies.

At the end of the Dialogue with the Experts we will highlight all the 16
WEEA Grantee's project descriptions and their contact information.

WEEA Equity Resource Center Staff:
Sundra Flansburg, Director
Amie Jagne, Administrative Assistant
Hilandia Neuta-Rendon, Senior Technical Assistance/EdEquity Moderator
Kimberly Newson, Office Assistant
Julia Potter, Managing Editor
Susan. J. Smith. Director of Communications

2002



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