[EDEQUITY Disability] Opening Statement by Sue Sattel

From: Sattel, Sue (Sue.Sattel@state.mn.us)
Date: Mon Aug 19 2002 - 09:58:51 EDT

My name is Sue Sattel and I have been an equity specialist at the Minnesota
Department of Children, Families & Learning (Education) for the past
thirteen years. I have been with the Department in areas such as grants,
technology, and school improvement for a total of 23 years in Minnesota
with an additional four years in Eugene, Oregon. I have also been a
Juvenile Delinquency Social Worker in Michigan. Through the years, girls
and boys and persons with disabilities have been important to me.

Unfortunately, we are in the midst of a budget shortfall and my position
has been eliminated with the Department. Today, I begin a new position.
This means that my files are packed in boxes as I change offices and floors
to begin my new assignment. I accepted this offer of panelist to be able
to discuss the issues that are important to me and also to be able to
distribute free resources that may otherwise be recycled. We have had 25%
of our state staff and positions reduced or eliminated which puts a stress
on the remaining staff and causes us to quit providing some services that
we used to provide.

1. Status of girls and women with disabilities, and the issues and
challenges they face: Girls and women with disabilities continue to be a
vulnerable category of persons. Color, possibly a sexual minority status,
sexism, harassment, and violence increase their vulnerability. Girls face
multiple and complex needs which require specific attention. These include
invisibility in the classroom - unidentified, misidentified educational
needs; disbelief when sexual violation is reported (or administrators
saying "boys will be boys") and a particularly permissive attitude when
boys have a diagnosis of EBD and are "expected" to act out sexually. It is
in society's interest to protect itself from harm and to ensure its future.
Education programs must be modified and the educational climate improved to
the point where discrimination is eliminated and harassment, abuse,
violence and bullying are no longer tolerated.

There is a lack of opportunity in athletics for girls and women, although
there are many more female athletes than there were even ten years ago.
For children with disabilities, there is an additional barrier particularly
as grades and grade point averages are used to determine eligibility.
Minnesota has made progress by having adapted athletics, but fewer girls
avail themselves of activities that could improve their self-esteem,
competence and satisfaction in life. Many of those student athletes who do
wish to continue being athletes become ineligible to continue playing if
grades fall due to an academic program that isn't fine tuned enough to meet
their learning needs. Academic standards and athletic requirements and
regulations need to be modified for students with disabilities. This will
benefit girls particularly.

Disability rates are higher among juvenile delinquents than among the
general population. Many youth are diagnosed, but program services are
lacking. Others are misidentified and underserved. Youth see sexism and
often perpetrate this "bad behavior" upon women and girls. Girls are
becoming more violent as well, and are often saved from serious injury only
because they carry weapons less frequently. The Sadkers (David and the
late Myra Sadker) showed us that schools failed to meet the needs of girls,
those with learning problems are not identified as often as boys and boys
receive more of their teacher's attention. They start off scoring well on
tests in every academic subject but graduate with lower SAT scores than
boys; they become more passive in class; their voices silenced; and they
become invisible. Sometimes they are being perpetrated upon sexually at
home or in the community, and their anger at all of this spills over onto
society in general and/or is internalized into depression leading to a an
underutilization of potential and a lack of productivity.

2. Has the school system improved in creating a gender equitable classroom
environment that benefits all students.
There has been progress.

Review of educational data in Minnesota and on-site examination of several
school districts indicate that girls are taking advanced mathematics and
science courses in higher numbers then they did in previous years. More
female students are taking computer assisted design and other technological
courses than before. Several districts that have hired females in
Agricultural courses, biology and animal care have had female and male
students clamoring to get into them. Other areas in vocational have not
improved their ratio of females to males very much at all. On the whole,
in Minnesota, teachers and administrators are getting better about
enforcing sexual harassment policies and monitoring its prohibitions.
Teachers are grouping students for activities in increasing numbers and
teaching in such a way that fosters cooperative learning that is gender
neutral and respectful. There is a long way to go.

3. What new resources are available for teachers, administrators and
The resources are a video tape for deaf and hard of hearing students K-12
that is signed and open captioned (because many school districts don't have
equipment for closed captioning) with an audio track on sexual harassment
prevention, It's Not Fun/It's Illegal. Good for students for whom English
is a second language, as well.

There are copies of the elementary curriculum Girls and Boys Getting Along:
a Teaching Guide for K-6 sexual harassment prevention. And finally, there
are a few copies (about 50) of a secondary curriculum, Sexual Harassment to
Teenagers: It's Not Fun/It's Illegal. Please call 651/582-8471 for copies.
Speak slowly and distinctly your name, mailing address and what you want.
Also leave your phone number. The copies will be mailed or you will be
referred to another phone number for service. Thank you. Minnesota has a
relay service for deaf and hard of hearing.

Sue Sattel
"Sattel, Sue" <Sue.Sattel@state.mn.us>
Equity Specialist,
Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning,

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Mon Aug 19 2002 - 09:59:27 EDT