Last week, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced theStrengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, a bill to reauthorize (fancy word for “update and fix”) the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind.
The “mark-up” of the bill—when the HELP Committee votes on amendments and hopefully sends the bill to the full Senate—starts tomorrow.
There may be no crying in baseball, but the lack of athletic opportunities available to girls in secondary schools across the country is definitely something you should be upset about. Just yesterday, the National Women's Law Center filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit in Ollier v. Sweetwater, a case brought by high school girls challenging their school's failure to provide them with equal athletic opportunities and the retaliation they faced after lodging a complaint. The brief supports the district court's ruling that the school failed to meet any part of Title IX's three-part participation test and that it retaliated against the class of girls when it fired their coach among other actions. The school district appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Read more »
My senior year of college, two of my roommates and I watched Teen Mom CONSTANTLY. I liked to pretend I wasn’t watching it, but the conversation usually went something like this:
Becka (standing in doorway): “Oh jeez, guys. You’re watching this?”
Arielle: “Yes. Absolutely.”
[10 minutes later]
Rachel: “…Do you want to sit down?”
Becka (still standing in doorway): “…..Yes. FARRAH’S CRYING FACE IS CRAZY.”
When you watch the show, the difficulties of teen parents and pregnant students become painfully clear. Recently, I was re-watching Season 1 on Netflix Instant, and it clicked – wow. The Pregnant and Parenting Student Access to Education Act would REALLY help these girls.
Title IX already affords a number of protections to pregnant & parenting students. This law requires that schools receiving federal funds not discriminate against students on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy and related conditions like childbirth, pregnancy termination, and recovery. This prohibition against discrimination comes in a number of forms – for example, students must not be forced to attend a different program or school than their peers, must be given the opportunity to make up missed work for pregnancy-related absences, must be treated the same as if they had a temporary disability, and may not be excluded from sports or extracurricular activities.
The Pregnant and Parenting Student Access to Education Act (PPSAE) is designed to go beyond nondiscrimination by giving students the tools they need to succeed. It would enable school districts to – among other things – create graduation plans for pregnant and parenting students; provide academic support, parenting and life skills classes, strategies to prevent future unplanned pregnancies, and legal aid services; help pregnant and parenting students gain access to affordable child care, and revise school policies and practices to remove discouraging barriers. Pretty great, huh? Read more »
Just when I thought I had seen it all, and right on the heels of our announcement two days ago of a great Title IX pregnancy discrimination settlement with the City University of New York, my colleague forwards me this article and video from HuffPo. Apparently last summer a North Carolina high school allowed its rising seniors to pose for senior photos with props that represented their achievements, who they are, what they like, etc. Some students posed with footballs, some even posed with their family pets, and teen mom Caitlin Tiller posed with her baby. Touchingly, Caitlin explains that her son “helped me get to where I am today.” She said that after giving birth she started to work harder in school – she even graduated early, began college classes in January and got a part-time job working 30 hours a week. She added: “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.”
Still, a month ago school officials told Caitlin that they would not print the photo of her with her baby. They said the baby should not be pictured because he is not “school related.” Boy, would I love to hear them explain how a family pet is “school related.” Read more »
A few months ago, my employer, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), filed an administrative complaint against the City University of New York (CUNY) for violating Title IX by discriminating against a pregnant student, and just this morning we settled the case with CUNY, which has agreed to take some important steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
A little background: Stephanie Stewart, a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), was pregnant at the start of the Spring 2012 semester. Because BMCC, like the vast majority of colleges and universities, receives federal funding, it is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex by Title IX. Unfortunately, BMCC left it up to instructors to determine their own policies for absences and make-up work and didn’t explain that pregnancy-related absences must be excused.
Stephanie’s professor in her anthropology course called “Roles of Women” refused to accede to Stephanie’s request that, if she had to miss class to attend a pregnancy-related medical appointment or to deliver her baby, she be allowed to make up the work she missed. The professor told Stephanie that she doesn’t allow make-up tests or assignments, even in cases of unforeseen emergencies – including Stephanie’s pregnancy, and refused to grade homework turned in via email when Stephanie had to attend a doctor’s appointment.
Stephanie didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She brought her case to the attention of NWLC and helped score a BIG-TIME victory for all CUNY students. As a result of the settlement, CUNY will adopt a policy regarding the treatment of pregnant and parenting students, making it clear that absences for conditions relating to pregnancy are excused and students will be allowed to make up missed work. Read more »
After four years and five wins in the courts, the female volleyball players who sued Quinnipiac University for trying to eliminate their team and replace it with competitive cheerleading have secured a settlement that will help the entire women’s sports program. The settlement, announced today, requires Quinnipiac University to, among other things:
retain the volleyball team and all other women’s teams (the University added women’s golf and rugby recently and will help rugby evolve to the same competitive level as other sports);
increase scholarships for various women’s teams;
spend at least $5 million improving women’s athletic facilities, including locker rooms;
spend about $450,000 annually improving women’s coaching salaries, increasing coaches and academic support staff, and providing more athletic training services; and
allocate $175,000 during each of the next three years to a fund for additional improvements for women’s sports.
This case was very important in terms of setting precedent and providing guidance to schools across the country on several issues. First, there was a lot of fuzzy math that the court said was inappropriate. For example, the school double- and triple-counted students who were listed as members of the women’s cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams, even though many of the women did not receive genuine participation opportunities on more than one of the teams. The law allows multi-sport athletes to be counted for each sport they play, but only if they are really playing. Read more »
Today, NWLC, with the Michigan law firm Smietanka, Buckleitner, Steffes and Gezon, filed a Title IX lawsuit in federal court against the Forest Hills School District outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We represent a high school student—we call her Jane Doe to protect her privacy—who was sexually assaulted on campus by a fellow student and star basketball player.
Jane was brave enough to tell a teacher what happened, and that teacher told the school principal. But when the principal met with Jane and her parents he discouraged her from filing a police report and implied that she’d jeopardize her assailant’s changes of getting recruited by Division 1 schools (!!!).
I often regret not being involved in high school athletics. Granted, I was very busy with musical theatre. It’s kind of ironic that I could perform a strenuous swing dance routine while singing with no problem, but could barely run one mile for the Presidential Fitness Test each spring.
About a year ago, I decided to confront my lack of athletic ability head-on and take up running. I started out with couch to 5k, a 9-week training program for non-runners (that’s the couch part!) to learn to run 3.1 miles. After my first race, I was hooked, and I’m planning to run my first half-marathon this Saturday.
Long-distance running is no joke – I’ve had to reform my sleeping, nutrition, social habits, all in the name of having better runs. I’ve also become one of those runners who talks about fun physical ailments (blisters, anyone?) in casual conversation. Mostly, though, it’s made me more disciplined. At least half of the challenge of running a half-marathon is mentally pushing yourself through to the end. The combination of physical and mental challenges, along with the commitment necessary to maintain my training around an already-packed schedule, has given me an opportunity for enormous personal growth. Read more »
The District Court that first told Quinnipiac University it violated Title IX when it dropped the women’s volleyball team and claimed its cheer squad counted as a sport has once again told the university that it is not in compliance with the law. In an almost 100-page opinion issued yesterday, the Court instructed QU to continue to sponsor volleyball and said that QU needs to make more progress before the Court will let it out from under its watch. Maybe this time the University will finally get the message.
The latest decision comes after QU asked the court to lift the order instructing it to keep volleyball and devise a plan to provide equal opportunities for female students. QU claims that it has added golf and rugby for women and made changes to cheer that should make it count under Title IX; so they once again want to drop the volleyball team (they seem to have a volleyball vendetta). Read more »
The title of this post is the message we conveyed to the Department of Education in response to their request for public input regarding the collection of Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) data. If you’re not familiar with the EADA, check out our one-pager here that explains what the law requires of colleges and universities (for example, the numbers of men and women playing sports and expenses allocated to each team). The Department helpfully puts all of this info on a website where anyone can look up any institution and print out a few pages with all the information that schools are required to disclose. Read more »