Tuesday, June 28, 2011

100 Oregon high schools cited

Sixty school districts in Oregon were named in a recent complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights. Over 100 high schools have been cited as not providing an equitable number of sport opportunities for girls.
This is a huge complaint--in both senses of the word! In what appears to be a significant amount of research and data collection, the complaint (just under 600 pages) lists the proportionality numbers for the 100 schools and ranks them accordingly. I was actually surprised at the numbers available. High schools are not required, by federal law, to report such data. But it seems that Oregon's high school activities association keeps track of such things. Makes it much easier than visiting every school asking for their records! Though it should be noted that the most recent data available was from 2006. I still think that OCR will at least look at the schools that seems to have the most egregious disparities.
It seems that opportunities is the only program area the complaint is focusing on. But if the complaint triggers an investigation (or many, many investigations), other areas will also be investigated.
Currently unknown is who is reponsible for this mssive undertaking, which was filed in April. Kudos to that person(s)--I certainly hope it is indeed persons. They appear to have done a lot of OCR's work for them already with the seemingly comprehensive report. I hope that OCR does indeed investigate these schools. I worry about their ability to do so. It seems as if so many complaints are emerging--large-scale complaints. I wonder if they are equipped (staff, budgets, etc.) to deal with it all.
The usual "surprise" being expressed by various school administrators who will certainly cooperate but are sure they are in compliance.
What has interested me about these large-scale complaints (I am thinking also about the 12 complaints filed by NWLC last fall) is that they focus on expanding opportunities for high school girls. This mirrors the push by women's sports advocates in the 70s, after the passage of Title IX, to focus on the expansion of intercollegiate opportunities. More and more attention is being paid to disparities in other programs areas (like facilities and uniforms for example). But the focus on high school opportunities is almost like a (near) 40-year trickle down effect. I hope that it both continues and creates a more widespread awareness of the need for mandatory nationwide data collection at the high school level.