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TASK FORCE ON GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION
Friday, December 10, 2004
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Cross State Office Building, # 107

MINUTES

ATTENDING: Karen Baldacci, Patrick Phillips, Yvonne Davis, Diane Doiron, Cara Martin for Henry Kennedy, Joyce McPhetres, Lisa Plimpton, Phyllis Brazee, Carla Ritchie, Craig Haimes, Sharon Wilson-Barker, Mary Madden, Wendy Ault, Gary Crocker (guest), Buzz Gamble (guest), Susan Corrente (facilitator).

9:30 AM WELCOME: Susan welcomed everyone and conveyed Patrick's regrets that he would be attending two meetings at once, this morning, and so would be in and out, throughout the meeting.

9:30 AM APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 17, 2004 MEETING: The minutes were approved, by consensus.

9:40 AM LENDING LIBRARY TRANSACTIONS: None were conducted today.

9:45 AM UPDATE ON WORK OF THE RESEARCH TEAM and UPCOMING PRESENTATIONS: Susan noted the following: There has been no meeting of the Research Team since November 17, 2004 Task Force meeting; the next meeting is December 15, 2004. Also, the following presentations have been requested : Steve Wessler, Center for the Study and Prevention of Hate Violence (confirmed for the February 10, 2005 meeting); Karl Covert, counselor ("emotional vocabulary"), Kennebunk schools (SAD #71) ; Mark Tappan, Colby College (confirmed for March 10, 2005 meeting, presentation scheduled for 11- 12:30, meeting at Colby College, room TBA). Mary noted that she and Sharon had conducted another focus group on December 3, 2004; there were fifteen students in the group (11 girls and 4 boys) and she used many of the same questions used in the earlier focus group. The data from the focus group discussion will be reviewed by Mary as she compiles the report.

9:50 AM PRESENTATION: Wendy Ault, MELMAC: Wendy distributed a hard copy of a POWERPOINT presentation and noted that the needs assessment they had done relied heavily on the Mitchell Institutes "Barriers" study, with a great deal of help from Task Force member Lisa Plimpton. She stressed that the "college gap" is largely a failure to plan for college (with "college" defined broadly to include the military and two-year programs, as well as four-year programs). She noted too that a large part of MELMAC's work is to help colleges keep students there, by identifying the best practices for retaining students. The POWERPOINT presentation, page 3, indicates some gender differences in student attitudes toward college; e.g., 27% of male students said they didn't think they needed college to succeed. Joyce asked if Wendy had learned further from these students why they thought that way; Wendy noted that some thought they could follow their fathers into their line of work or that they could "buy a lobster boat and make much more money"; Lisa reminded us of previous data that indicated that many male students feel it "isn't cool" to be smart. Yvonne acknowledged that MELMAC had defined "college" broadly, but wondered if the students were operating under such a broad definition, or under the more traditional definition of college as a four-year program. Wendy noted that the PSAT is an essential tool for preparing students to consider and apply to college, and several members noted that it also helps inform a Personal Learning Plan. Wendy and Diane also emphasized the importance of following up with students on their performance on the PSAT, in order to ensure that they take the valuable information that is afforded by their performance summary and not be discouraged by the score. Cara asked Wendy if any work was done with MELMAC grantee high schools on the climate in high schools to encourage exploration of options; according to Wendy, work is done with grantees in this area. Craig recommended that this important work begin in middle schools, as the patterns of course-taking get set then; Wendy agreed but felt that they had to prioritize with high schools, to ensure that the necessary supports are there first, for those coming from middle school and rapidly approaching the decision about college.

10:30 AM PRESENTATION: Yvonne Davis and Buzz Gamble , Department of Education, Career and Technical Education (CTE): Yvonne distributed several handouts, including Accountability Reports for 2001 - 2004, and described the State's CTE program. The law requires that these programs be available to all students; more girls are entering programs now that are nontraditional for their gender. The programs are gender neutral; and the education centers work on not only expanding the opportunities for boys and girls to elect programs that are nontraditional for their gender but also on supporting them there so they will complete the programs and graduate with credit from the programs. Yvonne did note that it is better that a student not be the only one in a program that is nontraditional for their gender (e.g., automotive for girls, health care for boys), but that they have the support of at least one other student of their gender. She noted that the college graduation rate is "pretty high" for CTE students and that applied learning helps girls as much as it helps boys. Buzz Gamble then reviewed the review and technical assistance work he does for the Department to ensure compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws, and that programs have done to ensure exposure of students to nontraditional program options. He too provided several handouts. He noted that in the past five years he's seen evidence of much greater acceptance of girls, by program staff, in nontraditional programs. Yvonne noted that some women have become role models in these programs and there are five female directors now of CTE programs in the State. Carla asked if there were, as the handouts indicated, more female than male students in CTE now; Buzz noted that there were, particularly in areas like health care and business but not in the "hard trades" where there are still more male students. Buzz noted that the way in which guidance counselors communicate with students about the option is critical, as they are the "gatekeepers". Yvonne noted that while females are being readily placed in nontraditional jobs after completing CTE programs, much work remains to be done with employers to ensure a supportive workplace, but those workplace issues don't arise for males placed in nontraditional workplaces. Craig noted that while there may be no pressure in the workplace, there is still a societal stigma that can reach these males through different channels (e.g., family and peer reactions to the choice of work).

11:15 AM PRESENTATION: Gary Crocker, Maine Community College System: Gary provided a handout on the Community College System, and occasionally wore his humorist's hat while presenting to the group, insisting for example that once he graduated from the University of Maine, he had been lobbying the University to "please, set some standards!" He himself graduated in a nontraditional field (early childhood education) and wanted to be a kindergarten teacher until he realized how low the wages were - he had expected they would be higher, given the importance of education at that stage of development. The System has six gender equity coordinators statewide to help ensure opportunities for students to pursue nontraditional programs; and the System itself, under John Fitzsimmons, has modeled the message of equity: in 1991, 22% of the System's management team (deans and above) was female and now 45% is female. Gary noted that the two key considerations for every student deciding on a course of study, regardless of gender, are: (1) what does it pay? and (2) do I want to do it for more than 10 minutes? Six of the seven colleges in the System do still have some programs that are 100% of one or the other gender; only one does not. Karen asked how we might encourage students to consider certain jobs, in response to what she's hearing from employers and others that they cannot find the workers to fill certain positions. Yvonne spoke to that from the CTE perspective, noting that the CTE programs have Program Advisory Committees which include members from the business community, and that the Committees influence curriculum and provide jobs. Yvonne see it as more of a problem of not having the numbers - not enough graduates in certain areas to fill the need - and this is often because the pay in those jobs is low or the benefits are poor (e.g., Certified Nursing Assistants or CNAs) and the industry itself isn't addressing those problems but needs to. Also, she and others noted that business often fails to appreciate the importance of students having a college degree before entering the workforce; they would prefer to rely on specialized training that meets the immediate need of the business but that isn't what's best for the student. Gary noted, for example, that machinists still need to study math, science, etc.; and that young women are sometimes shunted off early in a direction that avoid math, science. He strongly encourages that practice be evaluated, and the inclusion of higher math courses earlier in a student's educational experience, to keep options open to them. Craig noted that guidance counselors are critical here too in directing or "tracking" students early in their educational process, and in thereby virtually making career decisions for them. Patrick noted that the Commissioner feels strongly about the need to abandon tracking and takes every opportunity to send this message to the educational community. Patrick then shared Dr. Willard R. Daggett's model of "Quadrant D Learning", emphasizing that the learning of the future must be high in BOTH knowledge and application, not just one or the other. Cara noted that the Department of Labor's website lists the top ten careers in Maine. She also asked if anything was being done to align the schedules of CTE programs with academic high school schedules, to allow students a fuller range of options during their high school years. Yvonne reported that this has been a perennial problem and that the legislature finally addressed it last session, requiring regional calendars by school year 2005-2006, and more joint professional development, to address this very problem.

12:00 Noon GENERAL DISCUSSION: The discussion occurred throughout the presentations.

12:25 PM NEXT MEETING: February 10, 2005, 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Cross State Office Building # 107. REMINDER: THERE IS NO MEETING IN JANUARY, 2005. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!