May 14, 2007

Mis-Remembering Title IX

The debate over the 2005 reinterpretation of college athletic applications of Title IX tends to avoid acknowledging the truth: the higher-ed athletic application of Title IX is only one part of what Title IX's prohibition on gender discrimination touched, and it's probably the least important large chunk of Title IX's effects. In the decade before Title IX's passage as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, ...

  • Schools could slot students into program by sex and could make programs differentially available by sex (classically, home economics for girls and shop for boys, or higher math and science just for boys)
  • High schools expelled pregnant students and students who had given birth (I know: it still happens today, but it's clearly illegal)
  • Administrators were not held responsible for looking the other way when teachers discriminated based on sex
  • A small fraction of administrators were female
  • Many K-12 schools had no athletic programs for girls

Unless I explain these facts to students, many assume that Title IX only affects athletics and the debate over single-sex education. But in the broad sweep, Title IX has been remarkably successful in the core areas of academics and providing professional opportunities. So I'm torn over the current debate. Yes, athletic opportunities matter, but not as much as academic opportunities.

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Posted in Education policy on May 14, 2007 9:19 AM |