Congratulations to the USA Women’s Soccer Team! What an amazing accomplishment to be the best in the world. In listening to commentary on NPR, I heard a clip of a little girl saying that she wants to win the world cup when she grows up. I couldn’t help but think about how unlikely it would have been for the US Women’s team to be world champions absent the passage of the Title IX mandate.
Title IX was passed in 1972. This was a remarkable game changer (pun intended) for women’s sports. Title IX, requires gender equity in every educational program that receives public funds. Title IX continues to drive much of the funding for girls’ and women’s sports. This means that now, more than 40 years later, most of today’s mothers of girls experienced equity efforts at some level in their own childhoods. Moms like me grew up with access to school-based sports. Now our girls have pretty sophisticated school-based sports programming.
Title IX is a mandate. Today we think little of the struggle to adopt and implement practices to adhere to this mandate. I suspect in 1972 there was a lot of resistance and perhaps even hysteria around how it was interfering with a system that was working just fine. In fact, this is why there is STILL organization around reauthorization of Title IX. And even today we are hearing about how some educational institutions may not be adhering to Title IX. Mandates can and should drive changes in behavior that serve a clear purpose, to improve programming and increase access for those who can be easily marginalized.
Perhaps this success story about mandates and women’s sports struck a cord with me because of my early childhood background. Early childhood programs know all about accountability. We have so many requirements to adhere to, and subsequently we are required to demonstrate adherence to them. Head Start programs and state and local systems are adopting the CLASS and other mandated accountability measures. Much like Title IX, these mandates are intended to serve a clear purpose and these reporting requirements exist to change the delivery of services. All children deserve engaged, responsive, and intentional teachers. While these mandates may create more paper work, in theory, they exist to ensure our children receive high quality teaching and learning environments. Of course, not all mandates are perfect – and some do make life harder for educators – but many do in fact help change outcomes, whether it be for children in early childhood settings or aspiring female athletes.
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
By the end of every summer, the education world erupts with talk about back-to-school. This year was no different. The air was full of optimism. Vaccines had rolled out, many of us took our first vacation in a year and a half, and my inbox was full of the “best back to school” sales. Sadly, as quickly as many schools welcomed children back into the classroom with open arms, they were forced to close again due to increases in COVID-19 infections.
Admins, teachers, students, and families alike may be feeling concerned, cautiously optimistic, pessimistic, or confused. If you’re like me, you might feel all of the above all at once. But, I am taking comfort in knowing that this year, we are armed with more data.
Teachstone applauds the removal of three Confederate statues in Charlottesville, VA. Our organization is headquartered in this Southern city and we have seen first-hand the visceral reaction evoked by these tributes to figureheads of the Lost Cause movement. While the cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War has been lost, the war on racism has not yet been won.
Every state, every district, every school, every teacher faced decisions that they had never anticipated in the last academic year. As the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaches, it’s time to reflect on those decisions, learn from others, and prepare for the fall ahead.