[EDEQUITY Equity Now] Opening Statement by Craig Flood

From: Craig Flood, Consultant (cflood49@nycap.rr.com)
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 08:51:09 EDT

First, I want to thank the WEEA Center for the invitation and opportunity
to be a part of this EDEQUITY panel discussion marking the 30th anniversary
of the passage of Title IX. As some of you may know, I have often
participated in the ongoing EDEQUITY dialogue and was a panelist in the
panel on gender equity and boys in December 2000. It is once again a
privilege to play a role in helping to frame the discussion of this
landmark gender equity legislation. I also very much look forward to the
contributions of the other panelists, some of whom have been close
colleagues in this work for many years now.

For the past 20 years I have conducted research, written and developed
programs in the areas of career development, gender and mathematics, gender
equity issues for boys, sexual harassment in schools and school violence
prevention. Currently a gender equity consultant and program developer, I
come to this work having been director of a statewide gender equity project
in New York and served as Chair of the Association for Gender Equity
Leadership in Education (AGELE, formerly NCSEE) from 1998-2000. Most
recently, I have developed and facilitated a web-based course, "Raising &
Boys: Developing Strengths and Connections in a Changing World," for the
Gender & Diversities Institute at EDC.

While my advocacy work clearly provides a perspective on the history,
impact and continued need for Title IX, my reflections have curiously
focused more on a personal experience of the law than the professional.
2002 is the 35th anniversary of my graduation from high school (5 years
before the passage of Title IX) and it is also the year that my Brandon and
Meghan, my son and daughter (twins) will be graduating from high school. I
found myself looking at the contrast between these two high
school settings.

In my rural upstate New York high school there was little diversity beyond
gender. Yet, that variable alone described a world of difference in terms
of opportunity and access to curricula, athletics and activities. As a
football player and swimmer all four years in high school, these were just
two options out of many for me as a boy. Synchronized swimming, basketball
(though its difficult to call it that) and cheerleading were the "athletic"
programs available for the girls. In contrast to a school that set a
national record in consecutive wrestling match victories, the girls' sports
were little more than a footnote to the spirit of the school community.
Academically, there was a distinct boys' and a girls' "side" of the school
that respectively housed shop/agricultural and home economics/secretarial
classrooms. And while my academically talented
classmates were both male and female, their aspirations beyond high school
reflected the limited gender role expectations conveyed in the school
community and the culture at large in 1967. But, as we know, the "times,
they were a changing'."

Thirty-five years later, the high school from which my children will soon
graduate is a study in contrast; the signs of "opportunity and access" for
girls and boys are quite evident. My daughter, Meg, has been on the swim
team, a sport that has filled the stands each of the fours years she has
participated. In addition, soccer, volleyball, and basketball (the "real"
kind) are just a few of the athletic opportunities and extracurricular
available to the girls. Academically, my informal survey has revealed a
broad range of career aspirations and challenging college choices for the
girls I have come to know. Most striking to me is the sense of
self-confidence and purpose that has become so familiar to me in my
observations and interactions with these girls (now young women) the past
four years. Though there are clearly many factors that contribute to who
these girls are and how they see themselves and their futures, there is no
question that Title IX has helped ground the "culture" that has emerged in
that school and others over the past 30 years.

It is important to point out that, like most schools, the road to
compliance has been marked with ruts, detours, misunderstanding and
misinterpretations of the law. In our district alone, many of the
necessary changes came from community pressure, not an administration
intent on conveying the spirit of the law. As recent as 15 years ago our
district had the highest teen pregnancy rate in our county. In clear
violation of Title IX, pregnant girls disappeared from the hallways; "out
of sight, out of mind" was the practice. Twelve years ago the K-12
physical education program was completely segregated. And more by default
than anything else, career development at the high
school in the early 90's reflected anything but the nontraditional.

Four years ago, a new "state of the art" high school opened with a day care
center for parenting teens. Today, largely due to effective prevention
programs, the center must draw from the community in order to have enough
preschool children to run the high school's early childhood lab. After my
questioning and professional development I was asked to provide, the
physical education program is fully coed and a model of compliance and
creativity. Most significantly, new administrative leadership led to the
implementation of a comprehensive career development program that impacts
high school student through a sequence of coursework, career exploration
and internships that link school to the real world of work in meaningful

I have offered this personal view of the law and its impact as a means of
recognizing just how far we have come. It gives us reason to celebrate our
daughters' access to opportunities previously unavailable. And, at the
same time, it is also meant to acknowledge continued barriers and
challenges that lie ahead in meeting the educational and developmental
needs of all girls and boys in our schools. For in this high school and
others, there are still many girls and boys who experience the limiting
effects of gender bias and stereotyping.

It is no small irony that the Department of Education's recently announced
endorsement of single sex education within the context of Title IX arrives
on our doorstep as we celebrate the 30th anniversary. This proposed
loosening of Title IX is framed in terms of concerns that students' needs
(particularly boys) are not being effectively addressed in coeducational
public schools. It draws largely on conjecture, broad presumptions about
"accepted" gender differences in learning styles and minimal evidence about
the effectiveness of single sex settings. It should be noted that this is
coming from an administration that has been insistent on "scientifically
based research" in
the implementation of new policies.

I have no doubt that this will be a primary focus of our conversation here
the next two weeks. Despite the sea of political rhetoric and
bipartisanship surrounding this challenge to a law that has been working in
our schools, I view single sex education, as it is being framed, as a step
back in time and a loss of the ground gained in this issue of civil rights
and equality.

While this opening statement is an opportunity to share my views, I am most
interested in the perspectives and questions others bring to this important
discussion. I look forward to the many views to be shared in the coming

Thank you.
Craig P. Flood, Ed.D.
Education Equity Consultant

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