AAUW Questions Education Secretary

The American Association of University Women sent me an email inviting my readers to participate in tonight’s big meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The AAUW included a thought provoking list of questions that pertain to the education of girls in particular. Read them and feel free to comment on them in the comments section.

Tonight, Tuesday, September 15, at 8pm ET, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be holding a national town hall meeting as part of his “Listening and Learning: A Conversation about Education Reform” tour. This tour is in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Parents, students, educators, and concerned citizens from across the country can participate in the discussion about education reform via telephone and web access. AAUW encourages you to submit a question and be a part of this important process to shape federal education policy. A list of sample questions you can use is below.

Take Action!
Watch the town hall meeting on Tuesday night. You can ask a question during the program by calling in to 888-493-9382, or you can submit your question in advance via the Department of Education’s blog. If you’re not able to tune in Tuesday night, you can watch an archived webcast after the event.

1. Women and girls are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. In order to correct this imbalance, do you believe the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA) should be amended to include science as a required area of assessment to better identify opportunities to improve girls’ exposure to and achievement in these fields?

2. Girls comprise 49 percent of the high school population, yet they receive only 41 percent of all athletic participation opportunities, amounting to 1.3 million fewer participation opportunities than male high school athletes. In order to ensure compliance with Title IX and provide girls with equal athletic opportunities, do you support requiring high schools to report basic data on the number of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams?

3. According to studies, eighty-three percent of girls and 79 percent of boys reported having experienced sexual harassment, and over one in four students stated that harassment happens often. More recent research shows that bullying affects nearly one in three American school children in grades six through ten. What steps is the Department of Education taking to combat this problem?

4. It is important to hold schools accountable for demonstrating that they are meeting educational goals. However, it is both problematic and discriminatory to rely on tests as the sole indicator of student progress. Do you believe ESEA should include provisions encouraging the use of multiple measures of student achievement? If so, what other measures would you deem acceptable for measuring student achievement?

5. Over the past several years, many attempts – some of them successful – have been made to weaken public education by diverting public funds to private or religious elementary and secondary schools through various voucher funding schemes. Morally and economically, such programs fly in the face of our nation’s commitment to public education. Moreover, since private and religious schools are not required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws, such as Title IX, vouchers put our students’ civil rights are at risk. Does the Department of Education stand by the idea that our country should provide an excellent education for all children, rather than private school vouchers for a few?

Keep updated on AAUW’s positions on legislation by subscribing to the Washington Update.

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