Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Title IX: Ensures Equality In Education

By Janet Bandows Koster (pictured on left) and Betty Shanahan

Recent efforts by federal agencies to verify university compliance with Title IX are under scrutiny. Some claim Title IX compliance reviews are a “new” way to apply the law to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but this law has been applicable to all educational programs receiving federal funds for 36 years. Title IX compliance can open the doors to the so-called “male-typical pursuits” in STEM fields to women, just as equal opportunity mandates have done for once-closed careers of firefighters, police officers and military personnel.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. It requires gender equity for boys and girls, men and women in every educational program that receives federal funding - not just in college sports. It also authorizes and directs federal funding agencies to implement the provisions of the law.

A 2004 Government Accountability Office report noted that the federal agencies have not discharged their obligations to ensure that educational institutions comply with the statues. In fact, most only passively receive statements of compliance with Title IX -- usually in the form of a pro forma assertion.

Title IX compliance reviews can help to confirm that academic institutions receiving federal funding establish a climate that ensures a representation of women in STEM disciplines that reflects their level of interest. Any difference in participation, then, is a result of the personal interests of women and not due to environmental factors that discourage them from entering or remaining in these fields.

There have been several recent articles arguing that women don't want to be scientists and engineers, and that those of us advocating for more women in these fields are not acknowledging innate gender-specific career inclinations. In fact, the problems encountered by women considering a STEM career vary by discipline. The low number of women earning degrees in physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering is often attributed to a lack of interest, but the fact that many women with excellent academic performance enter but later abandon these fields suggests otherwise.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Railroading Immigrants…and the Constitution

By Kathleen Walker

Federal immigration officials swept into Postville, Iowa in May and detained nearly 400 workers at a kosher meat processing plant. Swiftly, local enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency arrested, charged with crimes, extracted pleas, and sentenced 297 of these individuals by the end of the following week. Apparently, this shock and awe strategy was specially designed to drop the hammer on undocumented workers doing backbreaking jobs under reportedly sub-optimal conditions.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HHS Proposal Undercuts State Birth Control Laws

By Cristina Page

The Bush administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been called "ground zero for the ideological wars in this country," and a new HHS proposal leaked this week proves why. In a spectacular act of complicity with extremists on the right, HHS is proposing to allow any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception.

The American public is nearly unanimous in supporting contraception: 90 percent favor wide availability for birth control, and 90 percent of sexually active women of reproductive age are using it. It is simple common sense: the average woman spends nearly three decades of her life attempting to be sexually active without getting pregnant, and access to contraception is the only proven way to avoid an unintended pregnancy.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

G8 to Poor Women: Let Them Eat Dirt

By Yifat Susskind

Last week, leaders of the world’s richest countries, the Group of Eight (G8), met to chart the course of the global economy at the luxurious Windsor Hotel Toya Resort and Spa in Toyako, Japan. While President Bush and his colleagues discussed world hunger over a six-course lunch, women in Haiti were preparing cakes of dirt for their children’s dinner.

Eating dirt, mixed with salt and vegetable shortening, is the latest coping strategy of Haitian mothers trying to quiet hungry children in a year when the cost of rice (Haiti’s staple food) has risen nearly 150 percent.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Creating a Stronger, Safer Juvenile Justice System

By Frances Deviney

Texas’ juvenile justice system is necessary and critical for protecting our citizens and helping to rehabilitate troubled youth. Unfortunately, it has not done either very well in recent years.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rebate Checks Alone Won’t Rebuild the Economy

By Blanca Rojas

As millions of Americans receive their tax rebate checks in the mail, the government is waiting to see whether this cash infusion will trigger a mass spending spree. Supporters believe this strategy will create rebate-fueled purchasing power that will give consumers the confidence they need to purchase that new flat-screen TV or simply pay off their overdue bills, jolting the economy back to life in the process.

The problem with this scenario is that no one can predict whether the rebate checks will do the job. Rebate checks are only one piece of the economic recovery equation; Congress must also create a growth package that contains proven initiatives for pulling the country out of a recession. This package should include four things: an expansion of unemployment insurance, a temporary increase in food stamp benefits, increased aid to state and local governments, and investment in infrastructure projects that would immediately put people to work.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eating American on the Fourth of July

By Rinku Sen

On this Fourth of July, I will be eating hot dogs. While I was trying to fit in as an Indian immigrant child throughout the 1970's, they represented the quintessential American food. I begged my mother to let me have them for dinner every night instead of chicken curry and rice. She nixed the hotdogs but sometimes allowed spaghetti and meatballs -- straight from a can. Hotdogs were "invented" by German immigrants serving their traditional sausages in the hustling streets of the new world, and spaghetti, everyone knows, came from Italy. If I had been celebrating Independence Day 150 years ago, however, neither would have been on the menu. In those days, Germans and Italians weren't considered Americans, or even white. When they fought over the most lucrative street corner for food vendors in the 1880's, the press reported these incidents as "race riots."

I'll be sharing this holiday with a group of restaurant workers, largely immigrants. Along with the hotdogs, we'll have tacos, samosas, falafel. According to one side of the immigration debate, we can keep our goodies to ourselves. America doesn't want them, or us.