stephanie jones

Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Woman…in song and video

In feminist work, gender and education, mothers, politics, professional development resources on June 23, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Woman, John Lennon

I am Woman, Helen Reddy

Fabulous parody of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ – Women’s Suffrage

Single, Natasha Bedingfield



Title IX is 40 years old…when and how do we teach about that in schools?

In anti-bias teaching, democracy, Education Policy, feminist work, gender and education, NCLB, social policy, Standing up for Kids, teacher education, teacher education resources, Uncategorized on June 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm

(Image from the Sports and Entertainment Law Blog)

Have we come a long way baby? Given the fact that Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown, was banned this week from speaking on the House floor because she said “vagina” during her compelling argument against restricting women’s reproductive rights – I think we’ve fallen a long way back in time, way before the 70’s when radical policy changes were made to improve the lives of girls and women in the United States.

One of those radical policy changes occurred forty years ago when Title IX was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon, and has faced many legal challenges over the years. Most people familiar with the phrase “Title IX” would immediately connect the law to girls’ and young women’s rights to play sports in any school receiving federal funding, but sports weren’t even mentioned in the legislation. The legislation prohibits sex discrimination in “all” of an institutions programs and activities, including sports, but extending well beyond sports. In fact, even sexual harassment of students is prohibited under Title IX, and if sex “bias” includes the way we teach and what we teach, I’m surprised that we haven’t heard about anyone using Title IX as a reason to include pro-women curriculum in schools at any level.

But a pro-women approach to education seems nearly impossible given the current war against women being waged in the U.S. (Even if it’s not just against women, but the pursuit of social control writ large). The attack on women and the persistent questioning of any attention to girls and women in education was gaining steam in 2001, just as the No Child Left Behind Act was being written and enacted. For example, The Heritage Foundation (formed in 1973, just one year after Title IX…coincidence?) describes itself as:

“Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

And within its “think tank” The Heritage Foundation determined that the Women’s Educational Equity Act was a “waste of money,” an opinion argued in this article, apparently written by a woman but written against girls and women. This article, like many others hitting newspapers and journals throughout the 2000s, highlights girls’ academic achievements in test scores relative to boys’ test scores. The article, of course, doesn’t mention that most girls and women still don’t know their basic rights, don’t know about the history of women’s rights in the U.S. or across the world, can’t recall any woman who is serving in a leadership role in the U.S. government, and have no idea that even in 2012 women still only make .77 for every one dollar earned by a man in the same job. A lot of folks may not even know that the “Paycheck Fairness Act” was voted on in 2012 and defeated. This Act would have made it easier for women to determine whether they were being paid fairly as compared to their counterparts who are men, but that right has been denied.

So where is Title IX in education? I can’t say I have ever heard about or observed any classroom at any level discussing the significance of this legislation in the daily lives and education of girls and women, and I definitely haven’t heard about or observed anyone teaching about women from an anti-discrimination perspective that would reflect the goals of Title IX. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the sex discrimination of our K-12 curriculum, and there are plenty of materials out there to help us all get started, including lots of links in the text above.

Do you teach high school? Check out this syllabus for teaching women’s rights. And NCSS standards are already included.

Don’t teach high school? Well, look over the syllabus to check your own knowledge about women’s fight for basic rights and adapt the material and activities to align with the age of your students.

And be sure to include current events in your teaching. Lucky us, the news is saturated with evidence that there is indeed a war against women being waged, and we get to teach it all, including the awesome performance of the Vagina Monologues in Lansing, Michigan on the Capitol steps , and the op-ed written by Representative Lisa Brown – two big news events this week alone.

We’ve gone a long way back in time baby – but it looks like women just might be waking up and deciding that the battles won in the 1970s, including Title IX among others eroding away, don’t guarantee anything when 40 years have passed.

**Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled has a good overview of Title IX and, as you will see, anti-women rhetoric is commonplace in the comments – a testament to today’s sexist climate.

Ankle Bracelets for “criminals” ; Wrist Bracelets for “students”

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I’ll post some links later, but I just realized I haven’t written about this “student engagement” bracelet issue at all. Here’s a letter from Diane Ravitch with some interesting details.

We’ve certainly lost our minds if we’re looking for answers in student engagement bracelets…

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 06:50 AM PDT
Dear Deborah,
As you may know, I started my own blog because I found that I needed more room to respond to emerging issues in education. Much as I enjoy our weekly exchanges, and much as I enjoy tweeting, I felt that I needed something between a long letter to you and a 140-character tweet. So I have been waking every day at 5 a.m. to read the latest education news and to comment on it.
The most intriguing topic of the past week was discovering that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been subsidizing research into something called “galvanic skin response monitors.” This research is intended to develop a bracelet that may be worn regularly by students and teachers to gauge their physiological reactions to what is happening in the classroom. The first grant that I heard about went to researchers at Clemson University for $498,055 to “determine the feasibility and utility of using such devices regularly in schools with students and teachers.” The Gates website said that the Clemson grant was related to MET (Measures of Effective Teaching), its teacher evaluation project, so it was reasonable to assume that the physiological responses might provide an additional metric for evaluating teachers. Were students engaged? Were they excited? Were they anxious? Were they angry? All such responses would be recorded as positive engagement.
After I posted my first blog about the Clemson grant, I learned that Gates had also given a grant of $621,265 to the National Center on Time and Learning for additional research “to measure engagement physiologically with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Galvanic Skin Response to determine correlations between each measure and develop a scale that differentiates different degrees or levels of engagement.”
Then a reporter from Reuters called the Gates Foundation for a response, and the story got more interesting. The spokesman for the foundation said the website was wrong, that the monitors would be used to gauge student engagement, but not for teacher evaluation—and the website description was changed. The reporter, Stephanie Simon, also learned that the foundation had spent $1.4 million on the research, meaning that there was a third research team working on what was called “engagement pedometers.” I have no idea why a bracelet would be called a pedometer, since a pedometer is supposed to measure steps taken on foot.
A debate ensued on my blog site. Many teachers chimed in with ideas about how they would raise their ratings on the bracelet. One suggested she would pick students at random and scream at them; everyone in the class would have a faster heartbeat, not knowing who would be humiliated next. Another suggested that he would bring in gorgeous teen models to cause the boys to react positively. There were suggestions of soft porn and proposals to animate the class by discussing whose music was best or what happened at the latest sports event. One science teacher saw the bracelet as a wonderful hands-on project, in which students would take them apart and figure out how to re-program them.
A few people wrote to say that they welcomed a new way to measure student engagement, but most teachers thought the whole idea was repugnant and an insult to them.
My own reaction was that this research is reminiscent of Brave New World. It suggests the development of a device to snoop into our being. It crosses a line that allows others—whether government officials, researchers, or teachers—to peer into how we feel. Whether it is intended to evaluate teachers, as was originally implied on the Gates website, or to measure student engagement, as the foundation now says, it is sinister. It goes where measurement does not belong. The fact that something can be done does not mean that it should be done. We could, for example, search for drugs and prevent anyone from bringing them into school by regularly examining students’ body cavities, but we don’t do it. We don’t do it because it is wrong. We should not do what is wrong even in the pursuit of the ultimate measure of student engagement or teacher effectiveness.

– Diane Ravitch

Stay away from our schools!

In democracy, Education Policy, films for teacher education, NCLB on June 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm

A cool – well, I think it’s cool – video I made using Go!Animate

“Stay Away From Our Schools!”

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