Hands Off! Title IX

No harrassment

Hands Off! Title IX

Keep your hands to yourself, the first rule we teach our preschoolers is a good start. Manners and appropriate behavior have to start somewhere.

I read a shocking article aboutTitle IXIcouldn’t wait to share, not another minute. This is a shorter post than usual, as the author really puts it together for us.

As a Principal and when I taught school administration, the first tenet was to ensure a safe and orderly environment. “Duty to Protect” was clearly stated in the California Education Code and I took it seriously.

Before we attempted any process of Visioneering and writing Mission Statements, lofty goals were put on hold until we secured our school from outside inappropriate people and events and inside, how to get along together as family.

On Twitter, Safe Schools, SOBTC and other chats routinely discuss the importance of anti-bullying and creating intact, thoughtful mindsets for appropriate behavior.

Gentlemen Clubs, process, counseling, class meetings and many programs have been put in place to stop bullying and protect the wide diversity of students in our care. Digital citizenship is an appropriate topic. What times we live in.

As a member of AAUW (American Association University Women) I was already aware of the 2011 study and findings about unwanted sexual harassment in schools and on college campuses. It is not my purpose today to take this topic over the top, but draw your own conclusions.

I tutored one little non-reader who is now a student at Cal Poly. He was scarred by an incident in Kindergarten when he was cornered in a bathroom by an older boy. Recently, Morgan was scratched repeatedly on the Kindergarten playground, the last incident leaving welts on her back, through her jacket. Bullying starts early, innocence lost.

The national election brought out troubling commentary I am obviously not dealing with here, but perhaps it is a catalyst for national conversation. Once again, the onus returns to us, as educators, parents and members of the collective community.

Jane Meredith Williams, gave us a thought provoking article in EdSource, July 24, 2016. She relates the AAUW study painted a grim picture of what we must deal with. The statistics are shocking, nearly half, 48% of grades 7-12 in the sample of 2,000 students reportedly experienced some sort of harassment based on gender.

Girls were more likely than boys to have negative experiences, but not always.

This is literally against the law in federally funded schools under Title IX, the Title IX Amendment of 1972, reiterated in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

Title IX is not just about sports, but also applies to sexual harassment, assaults, etc. In other words, protecting our students from unwanted advances of all types, including touching, words, and more.

Brett Solokow, Executive Director for Association of Title IX Administrators suggested that about 85% of schools may be out of compliance regarding providing a safe and orderly environment for student learning.

In 2013, Ca. Dept. of Education sent a letter to all school districts requiring Title IX Coordinators to complete a survey, but response was so low, nothing was published.

“Schools are obligated to act.”

It seems obvious that this is a complex issue, to be properly weighed by all school personnel, with positive plans reviewed and perhaps new directions needed due to a changing world landscape, or at least one that has now flown dramatically in our faces, in the best interests of all children.

I was not aware Title IX had these facets, but it gives us a starting place. It’s the law. Moreover, despite our best efforts, perhaps we can do more, starting today. Every school continually works in shared leadership moving forward in so many curricular innovations. This has to move to the top of the list.

When all is said and done, kids of all ages, Pre-12 need to feel safe walking down halls, on playgrounds, using bathrooms, in classrooms and online. We are already champions for children, now even more is required.

I see this as a civil rights issue for more than 7-12, it’s the right of all children. How we get there is up to us, but changing the landscape is perhaps even bigger than test scores and the myriad of other tasks we embark on. We spend so much time, and rightly so, on building capacity in schools, amazing curricular programs, teaching positive mindsets and self-regulation.

We face the bigger societal issue of how we treat each other as humans, regardless of how we look, our religious belief, the language we speak. We are ONE.

Read the article.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

One comment

This is such an important issue, Rita. Safety, security, equity, structure, and stability all go hand in hand in creating an environment conducive to properly nurturing and education children. This is why adult leadership from those on the front lines, parents and teachers, is so important. Love, laughter, and learning are also equally important, but they do not reach their full effects until leadership is also in place.

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