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TASK FORCE ON GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION
March 10, 2005
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Colby College, Roberts Union, Whitney Room

Attending: First Lady Karen Baldacci, Patrick Phillips, Katie Bauer, Lyn Brown, Mary Madden, Harry Osgood, Liz Fisher, Lauren McNally (for Lisa Plimpton), Carla Ritchie, Wendy Ault, Diana Doiron, Rebecca Sockbeson, Jeanne Whynot-Vickers, Joyce McPhetres, Susan Corrente (facilitator)

Guests: Karl Covert (SAD 71), Mark Tappan ( Colby College), Ruth Ellen Cohen ( Bangor Daily News)

WELCOME: Patrick and Susan welcomed the members of the Task Force and their guests.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF DECEMBER 10, 2004 MEETING: The minutes of the meeting were approved by consensus.

SCHEDULING MATTERS/UPDATES: Susan reported that, due to the snowstorm on the day of our meeting scheduled in February we missed a presentation by Steve Wessler; due to scheduling needs he will now be meeting with the Research Team on April 25, 2005 from 2 PM - 4 PM in Room # 500 of the Cross State Office Building and Task Force members are welcome at the meeting. Also, two more meetings (April and May, 2005) are scheduled for the Task Force. During the summer months of June and July, there will be no meetings of the whole Task Force but the Research Team will proceed with the work on the Report, and the Event Planning Team will be reconvened to do parallel work on the rollout of the Report, and professional development on the recommended practices that will be included in the Report, with the full Task Force reconvening in August to discuss the final draft of the Report and the plans developed by the Event Planning Team.

PLAN TO RECONVENE THE "EVENT PLANNING TEAM" FOR ROLLOUT/PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Susan noted that we will be reconvening the Event Planning Team soon to track the work of the Research Team on the Report and begin to plan both the rollout of the Report and the professional development on the recommended practices to be included in the Report. The discussion at our December Task Force meeting confirmed that the first level of professional development should be raising the level of awareness of the issues, given the values discussion this will involve; and that it should include a sharing of ideas among those teachers/administrators and others who have implemented practices that have been successful. Members today also reiterated the concern that more and more teachers are expressing feelings of being overloaded, and we'll want to be sensitive to the perception that we are adding "one more thing" to their already very full plates. Susan noted that some parts of the plan can be developed even as the recommended practices are still being developed by the Research Team. Susan will send an email to the Task Force, indicating which members are on the Event Planning Team and inviting others who are interested to join this group; she will also set a schedule of meetings for this Team through July/August 2005.

Patrick suggested that the Event Planning Team may also want to connect to other Department initiatives, where relevant, to avoid duplication of events and reach groups that have already gathered for other professional development opportunities.

PRESENTATION/DISCUSSION: Karl Covert (SAD 71): Karl presented his work on "emotion language", which relies in part on the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896 - 1934) on social development. He shared the theory that thinking is not possible without language, and that emotion language is largely absent from classrooms; where it is used in classrooms, students develop the capacity for it. Emotion language contributes greatly to social competence and social competence, in turn, is a good indicator of academic success. In a study of first and second graders, ages 5-8, gender and socio-economic status were found to be not as important as indicators of social competence as emotion language competence and verbal ability. However, research has revealed that mothers use more emotion language with girls than boys, so there is some gender influence there. One Task Force member suggested that this may carry over into the classroom, with the largely female teaching staff in K-12 possibly using more emotion language with girls than boys.

Karl listed the factors needed to promote growth in emotion language and therefore in social competence: (1) an emotionally safe environment; (2) the modeling of the use of emotion language; (3) the development of children's feeling vocabulary; (4) the development of children's understanding of what initiates certain emotion states; and (5) the development for children of scripts from which to learn to express feelings through emotion language. Karl noted that "the Responsive Classroom" includes many of these factors and helps create an environment where the group process manages itself, as opposed to being teacher directed. It was suggested by a Task Force member that we may want to consider classroom management according to these principles as a recommended practice.

Rebecca noted that this was important work for creating opportunities for students to discharge emotional stress, which opportunities are needed by those children who do not have those opportunities at home or anywhere else.

PRESENTATION/DISCUSSION: Mark Tappan ( Colby College): Mark distributed a handout on the Search Institute's Assets Inventory and some related research. He began his presentation by asking members to identify the social and the personal aspect of each of their lives that had contributed to their success; and he showed that several of those mentioned were included in the asset inventory. He noted that males report fewer assets in general but the data for each asset has not yet been disaggregated and would need to be for further study of gender differences. Some racial/ethnic breakdown has been done and he can provide that research upon request. Karen noted that Communities for Children is taking the asset work a step further, with an initiative called "Where Every Child is Known" through which community/school/neighborhood connections are developed. Joyce suggested that it might be helpful to compare schools that are asset rich with those that are not, to see what the implications for student performance are. Harry noted that Colby's mentor program is centered on asset building; Mark confirmed this and indicated that he works with the Colby mentor program.

UPDATE ON REPORT: Mary noted that the Research Team has requested data from the College Board and is continuing to analyze the data that has been gathered to date, particularly on the gaps in male/female performance on the MEA and the NAEP. So far, socio-economic status is emerging as more of an indicator of lower performance than gender. Susan noted that the Team will continue to meet monthly and share the developing Report.

REMINDER OF NEXT MEETING: April 14, 2005, 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Cross State Office Building, Room # 105

ADJOURN