[EDEQUITY Equity Now] Closing statement by Linda Shevitz

From: Linda Shevitz (lshevitz@msde.state.md.us)
Date: Fri May 31 2002 - 15:47:03 EDT

Thank you again for the opportunity to participate in a thought-provoking
and informative dialogue!

I want to join all participants in CELEBRATING the important impact of
IX. I was reminded of this throughout the dialogue of these last two
and also by watching an HBO video last night, "Daring to Compete: The
Struggle for Women in Sports." While the film focused on the major
that Title IX has brought for women in athletics, it also noted the major
impact of Title IX on expanding options and changing attitudes and
expectations related to gender roles in general. However, as with any
aspect of civil and human rights, the celebration of advances must be
coupled with continued proactive efforts to address the many vital gender
equity issues that still remain in our society and around the world.

In closing, one over-riding concern I share is that raised by Barbara
Bitters in her opening statement. She noted the...

                         "alarming lack of knowledge and expertise on Title
requirements and best practice implications within local or state education
agencies and educator preparation programs. The educators who received
training and coaching about Title IX in the 70's and 80's are retiring."

Emile Rosenberg also spoke of the desire for educators to have an
equity response" in dealing with concerns on a daily basis. Where will the
training to build this "equity response" on a system-wide level come from?

The question is ----Who will provide the on-going leadership, knowledge,
expertise to assure continued progress in gender equity at state and local
levels? Organizations such as AGELE, the Association for Gender Equity
Leadership in Education (formerly NCSEE) and NAPE (the National Alliance
Partnerships in Equity) have provided networking and leadership in gender
equity for more than 20 years, but the membership of these groups is
predominantly individuals who have been doing the work for decades. When
they leave the field, who will take their places?

In the late 1990's federal funding was eliminated by Congress for both the
state level equity offices supported by Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 and the Sex Equity Administrator positions supported under the Carl
Perkins Vocational Education Act. These were programs that provided
on-going gender equity training and assistance for state and local school
system educators. Only a handful of states have maintained any gender
equity staff and/or programs, and some states, when contacted by
with Title IX concerns or questions now respond, "Oh, we don't do Title IX
anymore." The ten federally funded regional equity assistance centers
continue to provide services and technical assistance on gender equity, but
they are under-funded and under-staffed as they are called to respond to an
overwhelming number of requests related to gender, race, and national

While this EdEquity dialogue has been useful, many of us who are on this
panel are part of the "old guard" of long-time gender equity specialists.
Outreach has to expand to colleges of education, to state education
agencies, and to local school systems to develop and support new leadership
. Gender equity for both males and females must be seen as an integral
of all state and local education programs and policies and must be infused
into all classroom practices. School systems must be informed about and be
encouraged to use programs such as GESA , The Gender Equities Institute
Programs and on-line courses, independent gender equity consultant
services, and resources such as those provided by WEEA and national and
local community-based organizations. Networking and policy coalitions such
as the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education must continue to
provide up-to-date equity information, such as the new Title IX at 30
Report. Each of us must mentor other educators to be knowledgeable equity
advocates -- to "pass the torch" to the next generation.

Students must also be part of gender equity leadership initiatives
While many of today's students are not aware of the history of Title IX, I
am encouraged by the assertiveness and leadership I see from individuals
groups of students in challenging what they see as inequities...the 4th
grade girls and boys who developed a campaign to challenge a
sex-stereotypical television ad by a local hospital and then held an
assembly on Title IX for students and parents; the pregnant teen who
successfully overturned her school's decision to forbid her to give the
graduation speech at her high school, even though she was class
valedictorian; the middle school student whose oral history project
on interviewing gender equity activists as change agents; the high school
student who surveyed her school system on gender issues and, when athletic
facility inequities were identified, lobbied her school board to fund
changes; the 10th grader who wrote and produced a training video on
harassment and violence; the 7th grader who told a teacher that his sexist
classroom practices were not only unfair but illegal under Title IX, and
recommended that the teacher attend a gender equity workshop.

Last year Shirley Chisholm told a group of students, "I will continue to
'fight the good fight' to my last breathe." As gender equity/Title IX
advocates we will all continue to be involved, even after we "retire."
However, we need to assure that there will be many "fighters of the good
fight" breathing the fiery breathe of passion in the cause of gender

Linda Shevitz, Educational Equity Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
410-767-0428; fax - 410-767-0431

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