Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bills push Title IX compliance - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Title IX, China style.

Finally, the Title IX article came out in the Trib. I had been peppering the reporter on this for many weeks.

Great to see the ink for Schenley too.
Bills push Title IX compliance - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review About 20 girls came out this week for the first day of volleyball practice at Schenley High School, but coach Peter Vitti said he would have liked to see more.

As it turns out, I'm not quoted. Oh well. Must have been cut from the article by the editors -- and that has happened in the past with the Trib folks.

I am against Senate Bill No 890. I have been with a copy of this since April, 2010. It was referred to the education committee on May 27, 2009. It landed in another committee along the way.

OBJECTION #1: Numbers do not tell the whole story. The bill should include a narrative section within the reporting. I want the folks at the schools to explain things. I want to hear the story of the school. I want text, be it one line or a dozen pages, to be able to be part of the public record as well as the numbers. This bill only requires numbers. Statistics lie.

Objection #2: The overall opportunities for the school need to be considered. This is about education -- not only about sports. We need to worry about afterschool. Within afterschool there is a sub-group called athletic teams. This bill only leans upon the sports teams and ignores all the rest of what goes on in the schools and district. That's shortsighted. That's wrong.

I'd love to hear about the number of kids in the bands, the choirs, the musicals, the dance teams, the cheerleader squads, the debate team, the Youth & Government club (props to Mr. Vitti, Angela and Anna of Schenley, all key in Y&G and mentioned in the article), and the rest. In Pennsylvania, we can do knee jerk reports that are with tunnel vision and don't tell the real story. Or, we can look to the whole landscape of opportunities. The bill should be changed so that the scope of reporting is made much greater than only the sports teams. Reporting can be done on the entire range of opportunities within the schools and the school district.

Objection #3: Use of public parks need to be blended into the narrative as to access to facilities at our schools. If the boys get the school gym and the girls get to practice at the Y, or else at the Civic Arena, or else at Kingsley Center -- then tell it like it is. We are going to have more, and already have many issues in Pittsburgh Public Schools about facilities because of the trend to schools that range in grades from 6th to 12th. The middle school teams and high school teams don't fit into facilities that are only built for high schools. I've already ranted about this. But, the narrative and a schedule of facility use would be most welcome to fix this serious concern.

Objection #4: What about joint teams? We play water polo in co-ed games, from time to time. The Cross Country teams train together. The swimmers train together, or at least the better teams do. Joint teams need to be explained.

Objection #5: The public access to the report from each school athletic director should be made available as the information is submitted to the department of education. A copy of the form can be sent to the light of day in a transparent way once it departs the school administrator's desk. This should all be done on the internet and not made available on paper in regular office hours for in-person inspection. As we have found on many instances, the 'right to know law' is weak as a twig.

Objection #6: Club sports, non-varsity sports, intramural sports, and emerging sports such as rowing, crew, kayak, field hockey, lacrosse, water polo and bowling need to be included into the mix.

Objection #7: Practice opportunities are not counted. What about the boys baseball team that has practice every day, rain-or-shine, while the girls softball team calls off when there is a cloud in the sky, starts three weeks later, and ends four weeks sooner? The two teams might have the same numbers on the squads on the first day of practice, but the team's opportunity for coaching is not similar.

Objection #8: Volunteer coaches are not in the mix. The other day the Schenley principal was telling of the boys basketball team that went to the state championships and she was shocked to see more than 15 adults on and around the team bench when the team got to the final playoff games. She asked, "Who are these men?"

Objection #9: Union bargained rates are dictated by contracts and these amounts can't be easily adjusted. But, in some districts they are out of the range of the union agreement. The narrative would help. Experience is also a factor that should be counted. If a first year coach gets $3,000 to coach the team and another that has 25 years of success as a coach, I see no problem in offering a different wage. That's how the real world works. The problem is when there are only first and second year coaches always filling the roles for the girls teams.

Objection #10: The total number of trainers per team by employment status, full time, part time, says nothing about the percentage of time devoted to guys vs. girls. I've been in athletic departments where there is one trainer. That trainer goes to all the basketball practices and games -- and never visits with the swimmers. The swimmers have a trainer -- but in reality, the percentage of time devoted to one gender can be much greater than that of the other.

Another solution: Let's get a conflict resolution expert in the state so that the education department and schools and families and students and coaches -- everyone -- can have an outlet to air troubles to before litigation comes. Let's get a gender equity educational ombudsman that is part of our state system. One person can be elected into this annual role to hold hearings about grievances.

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