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TASK FORCE ON GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION
April 14, 2005
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Cross State Office Building, Room # 105

Attending : First Lady Karen Baldacci, Patrick Phillips (for WELCOME), Kathryn Danylik, Bobbie Niehaus, Aileen Fortune, Sharon Wilson-Barker, Carla Ritchie, Rebecca Sockbeson, Joyce McPhetres, Rob Pfeiffer, Diana Doiron, Joan McDonald, Katie Bauer, Jeanne Whynot-Vickers, Pender Kimball, Lyn Brown, Heather Linnell, Phyllis Brazee, Michael Montagna, Susan Corrente (facilitator)

Guests : Ron Jenkins, Superintendent, Maine Indian Education; Kim Lipp, Jobs for Maine's Graduates; Kate Sheaff, Jobs for Maine's Graduates

WELCOME : Patrick welcomed the members and then had to excuse himself to attend to matters being heard currently before the State Legislature.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF MEETING OF MARCH 10, 2005 : The minutes were approved by consensus.

LENDING LIBRARY TRANSACTIONS : Completed.

ANNOUNCEMENTS : Lyn Brown distributed information about an event scheduled for this evening with Cosy Sheridan, on growing up female in America. Lyn also recommended a book for the Research Team and will pass it on to Mary Madden; and she distributed copies of an article entitled "From Preschool to Middle School: The Role of Masculinity in Low-Income Urban Adolescent Boys" Literacy Skills and Academic Achievement".

PRESENTATION/DISCUSSION - Ron Jenkins, Superintendent, Maine Indian Education and Rebecca Sockbeson, Penobscot Nation and USM: Ron opened the presentation with a brief overview of Maine Indian Education (covering 3 reservations) and distributed a handout on Maine Indian Education Enrollment Data, graduation rates, and data collected from students, counselors and after school coordinators on why students don't succeed in high school. It's most common to lose students in junior/senior year of high school. While the dropout rates have been very high at times (40-60%) it is now down to 8%; and at Shead High school this year, almost 90% of those who graduate will continue on to post-secondary programs and for Indian Island, it is 100%. Ron reported that he has recently hired someone to address gender issues, particularly teenage pregnancy. Pregnant students are served under Section 504 plans and receive tutoring and other services. Rebecca continued the presentation by noting that the dropout rates for Native students may be twice that of white students, at times and that the systemic issues that cause this must be addressed. She began her presentation with a video produced by the Maine River Coalition, the American Friends Services Committee, and others that offered views from Native American youth, and other Native Americans, on the importance of maintaining their identity and the rituals of their culture. Rebecca then distributed a copy of a Proclamation that one of the students on the video described as being distributed in her class with little awareness of how it might affect her as a Native American student - a Massachusetts Proclamation from 1755 that described the bounties levied on the scalps of Penobscot Indians, with bounties for female's and children's scalps set lower than for males. She emphasized the need for anti-racist policies in schools that address the situation of the Native student and pointed to Australia and New Zealand as two countries that have shown leadership in this area. She also recommended the book "Sisters in the Blood: The Education of Women in Native America" by Ardy Bowker (1993) as a resource for the Research Team and Susan noted that she would order a copy. One conclusion reached by the author is that the most important factor for ensuring that Native American students graduate is the mentor or the sensitive, caring teacher; and she agreed with Katie that the curriculum must also be one in which Native American students learn about themselves in a way that doesn't dehumanize them. Also, she noted that the data can be generalized - what's best for the young women (mentors; sensitive, caring teachers) is also what's best for the young men. Rebecca will also assist the Research Team in ensuring that the report includes awareness of this issue as it takes into account the issue of school climate.

PRESENTATION/DISCUSSION - Kim Lipp and Kate Sheaff, Jobs for Maine's Graduates (JMG): Kim provided handouts of her PowerPoint presentation, which provided an overview of the program with special emphasis on gender specific data; they are only beginning to collect data by gender and have not yet analyzed it. The program now serves students as early as grade 6, not just for lagging academic performance but also for other difficulties in their lives that interfere with their remaining in school until graduation. The program serves slightly more girls than boys and one barrier that is specific to girls is their excessive absences while the barrier that is specific to boys is their low academic performance. Mentors, or the JMG specialists, are critical to the success of these students. Susan noted that in both presentations, mentors were the common, critical element in the success of the students and it will be important to examine further the data on this in our report and consider it as a recommended practice. Kim gave the members her email address, for any further questions or need for followup data the group may have.

UPDATE - EVENT PLANNING TEAM : Susan reported that the Team has been reconvened and is scheduled to meet for parallel work with the Research Team throughout the summer; if any others wish to join in any of these meetings, please contact Susan for a schedule of meeting dates/times. Both Teams meet on the same day, here at the Department, to allow for cross-fertilization where helpful. Rob Pfeiffer reported on several resources he knows who are interested in helping us prepare a video for staff training. To address the earlier concerns of the Task Force, these resources may not involve a cost or much of a cost, and many are youth interested in sharing youth testimonies on this subject. The Task Force agreed that the Event Planning Team should explore this further when they meet in April.

DISCUSSION OF DRAFT REPORT : Susan noted that Mary is away at a conference this week and that Sharon has met with Mary and developed a plan to gather feedback on the current draft (sent electronically this week and available here in hard copy). Due to the fact that this discussion is beginning later than originally anticipated, Sharon structured today's discussion as the first part of the discussion. She assembled 6 small groups of Task Force members and asked each group to concentrate their review on a certain section of Chapter 2 of the draft, to record their comments, questions, recommendations and brainstorming on each of the sections, on the worksheets she provided and return them to her for Mary, Sharon and others on the Research Team to review. Sharon noted that we will have part two of the discussion together at the May 12, 2005 meeting of the Task Force.

ADJOURN

NEXT MEETING : May 12, 2005, 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Cross State Office Building, Room # 105 [Aside from an Update from the Event Planning Team, the entire meeting will be devoted to review and discussion of the draft report, and that discussion will be facilitated by Sharon.]