Monday, July 13, 2015

Chicago Public Schools making changes

In 2010, the National Women's Law Center named the Chicago Public School District as one of the worst offenders of Title IX (along with 11 other districts nationwide).

Last week, the district entered into an agreement with OCR that will add more opportunities in girls' sports. The district must now add opportunities in the majority of its 92 schools. The goal is to achieve proportionality by the 2018-19 academic year.

Some schools have further to go than others. The overall numbers from 2014 show an approximate 10% gap between enrollment and opportunities for girls. The numbers that truly paint the picture, however, are how many opportunities this gap encompasses. Twenty-five schools will need to add approximately 100 opportunities (per school!) to achieve proportionality. Lane Technical High School must add over 400. In total, though, the gap is equal to over 6,000 opportunities.

The district had tried to prove that they were meeting the interests and abilities of female students based on interest survey results of all students, but OCR determined that the low rate of response from girls was not proof of met interests. This decision reinforces to schools that to prove met interest, a serious and thoughtful process must occur.

Another positive message from the agreement: OCR refused to recognize the competitive dance and cheer teams that some schools attempted to count. Though this issue seems to have been well-documented, there are many schools--especially high schools--that continue to place their female-dominated dance and cheer teams in their Title IX numbers, despite OCR's statement in 2008 that activities which promote and support other sports cannot be counted.

OCR has placed various deadlines on the district. Though the ultimate goal is prong one compliance by 2019, 12 high schools must prove compliance with one of the prongs by August 1. Schools that do not have proportionality by the end of September must engage in a "comprehensive assessment" of student interests and use the results to create new teams or add opportunities to existing teams.

In short, OCR is demanding to see movement towards equity and to see it now. There are other requirements including a district Title IX coordinator specifically for athletics, information about Title IX and athletic opportunities for girls on the district web page, and the creation of a database to monitor progress.