Dept. of Education: Power, Lobbyists More Important Than Student Athletes

Last Friday, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) led a tweet-up with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to “kick off 2012 and to recognize the 40th anniversary of Title IX this year.”

Here’s what actually happened:

Our Secretary of Education went to the offices of Title IX lobbyists. The lobbyists were so brazen that they even typed his answers while sitting right next to him. Secretary Duncan ignored all follow up questions from critics of Title IX enforcement. Throughout the chat, lobbyists and trial lawyers from American Association of University Women, National Women’s Law Center and Women’s Sports Foundation tweeted congratulations and applause for him, even as fair-minded questions were disregarded or whitewashed. Here’s what the Secretary had to say to the many thousands of young men who have had their teams, scholarships and dreams dashed because of his enforcement policy: nothing.

We at American Sports Council anticipated that the hosts would avoid discussing the hard truths about the impact of gender quotas, proportionality, and the three-prong test on high school and college athletic programs, so we decided to confront them with a series of questions leading up to the event. Some that we asked include:

  • @arneduncan @EDcivilrights What do you tell booster parents that can’t have bake sales because of your #T9 enforcement method?
  • When will @WomensSportsFdn @AAUW get that gender quotas and proportionality don’t create equal opportunities, they destroy them?
  • @arneduncan @EDcivilrights how do you say you’re promoting #T9 if your enforcement choices cut so many opps?
  • @arneduncan 3 part test only for colleges, not HS. How can you let it continue since it violates equal protection + equal treatment?

The responses were nothing less than shameful. Let’s start with those pertaining to men’s cuts:

  • (AAUW) @LisaMaatz You know, when mens sports are [c]ut, no one is happy. But it is budget decision by the school. Nothing in T9 says u must cut sports.”
  • @arneduncan Contrary to conventional wisdom, since 1972 access to men’s sports has not been diminished
  • @arneduncan T9 requires schools to offer equal athletic opps for men & women. It doesn’t require schools to eliminate any teams
  • @EDcivilrights Title IX is abt ensuring equal access to athletic opportunity & since its passage opportunities have increased for men & women

Did they already forget that male and female athletes from James Madison University protested outside of the Department of Education in 2007, drawing national public attention to their university’s decision to cut 10 teams? OCR officials even extended an invitation to JMU athletes —which they accepted — to discuss the unfairness of proportionality and team cuts based on gender! But, since we’re all for facts at ASC, here’s a picture proving that both men and women (they lose out on training partners, among other harms) are not only affected by the government’s methods, but that they also care:

Obviously, JMU is not the only school to axe men’s teams. University of Delaware, Rutgers University, Liberty University, and University of Nebraska-Omaha, among countless other schools, have capped rosters and eliminated programs, not because of budget reasons, but due to so-called “gender equity.” In the past two months alone, two community colleges have cut their recognized football programs because they couldn’t balance the numbers; University of Maryland has cut 8 teams — 5 of which are men’s — and decreed that the boys will only be saved if their girl counterparts raise enough money and a veteran high school football coach quit because of booster club changes due to Title IX.

Palpable men’s cuts are one thing. Unseen effects are another. What Arne Duncan, et al. also don’t understand is that schools haven’t been able to add popular men’s sports, like soccer and lacrosse, because they preemptively predict the outcry from activists that their numbers don’t add up. Similarly, schools often add women’s teams without surveying their interests; padding the numbers by adding all-girls rosters ensures that they are in compliance with the Department of Education’s version of Title IX compliance.

Next up: tweets demonstrating that groups like the AAUW encourage people to sue their schools. Why? Because it ensures they are still relevant and perpetuates their survival through the revolving door of government officials, activist groups and Title IX consultants:

  • @LisaMaatz OCR is open to questions about T9, how to comply, how to ensure equal opp, says @EDcivilrights
  • @LisaMaatz Last year, @EDcivilrights received 747 athletics complaints alone
  • @LisaMaatz Is your school in compliance with Title IX in all its various aspects? Look at @AAUW’s Know the Score
  • @LisaMaatz We get complaints filed on behalf of boys & girls. If any1 believes they r being discriminated against, pls file says @EDcivilrights

Again, these statements are misleading. The OCR received 747 complaints because the National Women’s Law Center filed Title IX complaints in 12 school districts nationwide and emboldened others to do the same. What Lisa Maatz conveniently leaves out is that the OCR is already declining these complaints (albeit at not a fast enough pace). This fall, the OCR turned down the complaints in Oregon, because according to the Department of Education press department, “they did not provide facts in support of the allegations so as to raise a potential violation of the Title IX requirement to equally effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of both sexes.”

Despite publicly holding them accountable to their inaccurate statements and their Title IX enforcement system, AAUW, Arne Duncan and the Department of Education proved in their final tweets and post-talk wrap-up that patting themselves on the back is most important — and not the boys and girls whom the law is intended to protect:

  • @LisaMaatz Thanks again to @arneduncan for taking out time of his busy day to talk about an issue he cares personally about.
  • @LisaMaatz And special thanks to Russlynn Ali, Asst Sec at OCR @EDcivilrights, for her expertise and passion – and even hand.
  • @LisaMaatz Holy crap! RT@TrendsDC: Lisa M. Maatz, @lisamaatz is now trending in #DC

In the lead-up to the 40th anniversary in June, we will undoubtedly see more of the same from our leaders and activist organizations. However, they can be sure that American Sports Council and all of our supporters will not back down in pressing them to promote meaningful discussion and reforms on returning to Title IX’s original intent.

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