[EDEQUITY Equity Now] Opening Statement by Leslie Annextien

From: Leslie Annextien, Senior Counsel (lannexstein@nwlc.org)
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 08:52:09 EDT

Thank you to the WEEA Equity Resource Center at EDC for inviting me to be a
panelist. I am Leslie Annexstein, a Senior Counsel at the National Women's
Law Center. The Center is a Washington-based non-profit organization
working to expand opportunities and eliminate barriers for women and their
families. Educational opportunities is one of the Center's priority
At the Center, I participate in litigation, advocacy and public education
enhance the legal protections provided by Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972, in areas such as career education, sexual harassment,
athletics, and standardized testing. I am also the Vice Chair of the
National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, a nonprofit
organization formed in 1975, comprised of diverse organizations dedicated
advocating for educational opportunities for girls and women. Please visit
the Center's website at www.nwlc.org -- you will find many of our Title IX
materials on the website.

Title IX was intended to be a strong and comprehensive measure that would
tackle all those forms of discrimination, and more. The law addresses
aspect of education ? from admissions and tracking to glass ceilings that
have kept women from reaching the highest ranks of academia. Every federal
agency that funds educational programs or activities must enforce Title IX.
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is recognized
the primary agency charged with making Title IX's anti-discrimination
mandate a reality. To enforce the law, the Department of Education
promulgated regulations in 1975. Title IX's regulations require education
programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance to take
numerous steps to prevent and address sex discrimination, including
designating an employee to coordinate Title IX compliance and investigate
complaints; adopting and publishing grievance procedures that allow for
prompt and equitable resolution of complaints; and implementing and
disseminating a policy that prohibits sex discrimination.

Thirty years after the enactment of Title IX, while educational
opportunities for girls and women have increased, there is still much room
for improvement in the enforcement of Title IX to ensure that we achieve
educational equality. For example, sex segregation is persistent in
vocational training programs, with girls and women clustered in programs
that are traditional for their sex and that lead to low-wage jobs.
and universities continue to spend the lion's share of athletics money on
men's programming. Female students continue to face pervasive sexual
harassment in our nation's school. Many states do not have a state-level
employee coordinating compliance with Title IX. Despite this, Title IX
opponents have set up a zero-sum and divisive game, asserting that
educational progress for women and girls has come at the expense of boys,
and the nation must therefore roll back the protections of Title IX. These
attacks on Title IX and gender equity have been growing, appearing
throughout the popular media. In January 2002, the National Wrestling
Coaches Association and other Title IX opponents filed a federal lawsuit
against the U.S. Department of Education challenging the Title IX
regulations and policy guidance regarding athletics opportunities. Earlier
this month, the Administration announced its intent to modify the
long-standing Title IX regulations in order to make it easier for local
education agencies to provide single-sex education. These attacks and
actions demonstrate a willingness on the part of some to turn back the
to a time when women and girls had far fewer and inferior educational
opportunities. But, true gender equity in education has not yet been
achieved, and civil rights laws, such as Title IX, provide a solid
foundation for reaching that goal.

I look forward to participating in this dialogue during the year of
Title IX's 30th anniversary.

Leslie T. Annexstein
Senior Counsel
National Women's Law Center
11 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
tel: 202-588-5180
fax: 202-588-5185
email: lannexstein@nwlc.org

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