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TASK FORCE ON GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION

Thursday, June 3, 2004

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

MINUTES

MEMBERS ATTENDING:   Patrick Phillips; Joyce McPhetres; Richard Robles; Katie Bauer; Jeanne Whynot-Vickers; Rob Pfeiffer; Joan McDonald; Harry Osgood; Rich Kent; Wendy Ault; Elizabeth Fisher; Shelley Reed; Michael Montagna; Mary Madden; Lyn Brown; Sharon Wilson-Barker; Carla Ritchie; Phyllis Brazee; Pender Kimball; Ruey Yehle; Henry Kennedy; Lisa Plimpton; Rebecca Sockbeson.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS :   Patrick Phillips introduced himself and asked each member to do the same.   He explained that Karen Baldacci had a last-minute schedule change and could not make it to the meeting.   Patrick and others described a meeting that he and several members of the research team had with the First Lady on Monday, June 1.  

REVIEW OF MAY 6 th MEETING MATERIALS:   Patrick Phillips asked members to review the minutes from the task force meeting on May 6 th , and the minutes were unanimously approved.   Patrick Phillips then asked for comments on the revisions to the Charge of the Task Force and Research Questions as a result of discussion at the last meeting.   There were no comments.

PRESENTATIONS AND   SCHEDULE FOR FUTURE MEETINGS:   Patrick Phillips reviewed the proposed schedule of Task Force meetings through September, and members decided to schedule the dates for October, November, and December meetings.   Meetings were set for Thursday October 14 th , Wednesday November 17 th , and Friday December 10 th .    Sharon Wilson-Barker, Carla Ritchie, and Rich Kent indicated that they are planning to make presentations at the next Task Force meeting on August 19th.   The September meeting will be devoted to a presentation by Michael Kimmel.   Rebecca Sockbeson agreed to make a presentation on multicultural education and Indian education in October, and asked that other Task Force members with relevant information contact her to coordinate contributing to the presentation.   Others requested that DOE staff members make a presentation on MEA and NAEP scores, also at the October meeting.   Carla Ritchie suggested that someone from Juvenile Justice be invited to present in November, and others agreed.   Pender Kimball and Shelley Reed offered to present information on alternative education in Maine, also at the November meeting.   Patrick Phillips asked Wendy Ault to present data from MELMAC at the December meeting, and Wendy agreed.   Others requested a presentation on technical education in Maine high schools and community colleges at the December meeting.   [Followup—See Updated Schedule to Date, as of June 28, 2004, attached]

BLAINE HOUSE CONFERENCE/INTERIM TASK FORCE EVENT:   Patrick Phillips announced that Karen Baldacci has agreed to host a Blaine House conference this fall to raise awareness about our work, and ask members for ideas about   the event.   Patrick said that members of the media will be invited, and also described a possible speaker, Iannis Miaolis, Director of the Museum of Science in Boston.   Mr. Miaolis spoke eloquently at a recent meeting of educators about why girls aren't engaged in math and science and about reshaping middle and high school math and science curricula.   Phyllis Brazee recommended that this speaker might be balanced with a speaker representing the arts and/or humanities.   Richard Robles suggested including information on potential cost savings at the event, e.g., what does a dropout cost us?   Patrick agreed that including economic development data and implications at the conference is a good idea.   Richard also proposed including a presentation on a successful program in another country, such as Australia.   Rebecca Sockbeson added that Australia has worked successfully with its indigenous populations.   She also described a presentation at a recent event by a female student from Waynflete who had received a national science prize, and suggested that we consider including a student presentation.   Shelley Reed raised the issue of what we are going to do differently as a result of what the Task Force learns, and what we are willing to take on and actually do.   She does not want attendees to leave the event wondering what can be done about these issues.  

The group discussed attendees for the event.   Patrick explained that a smaller reception might be held at the Blaine House, but that we could hold the actual conference at a larger venue like the Augusta Civic Center.   The following groups were recommended as invitees:

•  P-16 educators; school counselors

•  State Board of Education and local School Board members

•  Legislators

•  Business community (Maine Chamber of Commerce)

•  Coalition for Excellence in Education (link to both educators and business)

•  Parents

•  Students (Legislative Youth Advisory Council)

•  DOL Career Centers; construction, contractors trade associations

•  Juvenile Justice advisory group

Harry Osgood proposed that people be invited in teams that would work together during and after the event on these issues.   There was some feeling that such an approach might be premature at the initial event, but that we should hold onto that idea for later.   Carla Ritchie suggested a separate event for students, and Patrick described the model of local events for students after the Taking Responsibility report was issued.

Members asked about the desired outcomes of the event, and Patrick named raising consciousness of the issues, generating energy, and setting the stage for making headway when we complete a final report.   He suggested that the Research Team work on planning the event, then circulate a proposal to the full Task Force.   [Followup—The Event Planning Team (different members than Research Team) will meet on July 8, 2004 to develop a proposal for the public event; the proposal will be shared at the August meeting of the full Task Force.]  

Ruey Yehle raised a general question about the timeline of the Task Force's work and when we will move to discussion about recommended actions.   Patrick suggested that we wrap up our presentations and data gathering this year, and move toward developing recommendations early in 2005.   [Followup—The Research Team will meet on July 9, 2004 to develop a proposal for the Report; the proposal will be shared at the August meeting of the full Task Force]

FIRST PRESENTATION :   Mary Madden, Lyn Mikel Brown, and Mark Tappan from Colby College: “Gender Socialization.”

•  Definitions of gender socialization, sex, gender, masculinity, femininity, social location, and meritocracy.

•  Excerpt from Tough Guise video describing media culture's influence on boys and their ideas about manhood and violence.

•  Asymmetry:   Boys get gender expectation messages much earlier than girls (early in childhood vs. adolescence).

•  “Real boys” have to live within a rigid box of acceptable behavior, but they also get privilege and power.   Violent actions mitigate feelings of powerlessness.

•  The “girl box” of acceptable behavior in the dominant culture includes “smart”, but the “boy box” does not.

•  The norms of acceptable girl behavior vary a lot by race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, etc.

•  Girl behavior norms are “policed” by peers and educators in schools.

SECOND PRESENTATION :   Rob Pfeiffer:   observations on boys in Maine schools and communities.   Possible actions to improve the educational experiences and outcomes for boys:

•  Incentives to get more male teachers into elementary schools and for educators to serve as coaches at their schools.

•  Incentives to make male behaviors more acceptable at school (boys start kindergarten one year later than girls; nurturing play).

•  Get more men involved in parenting classes (must be incentive, not mandatory).   Teach nurturing skills to men.

•  Subsidize subsistence farms.   Boys need meaningful work.

•  Improve nutrition in schools (wholesome food in school lunches; remove junk food and soda from schools).

•  Model nonviolent crisis intervention, from elected leaders on down.

•  Less testing, not more.

FOLLOWUP DISCUSSION:

Katie Bauer added an item to Rob's list of actions: more Phys Ed time in school.   Ruey Yehle cited a successful program in Illinois where schools offer Phys Ed every day, which has measurably reduced the percentage of students who are overweight.   Elizabeth Fisher suggested that teachers and schools use physical activity rather than sitting still as a punishment for boys.

Richard Robles suggested that Ed Techs need more training and supervision in order to better handle “boy behaviors” at school.   He also raised the issue of gender confusion and sexuality among boys, suggesting that sexuality be taught in middle schools and put into greater context.   Lyn and Mary agreed that girls also need better information on their own sexuality, and explained that we have been moving away from good sexuality education for some time.

Harry Osgood asked that the Task Force get information about the latest research on different learning styles by gender and by developmental phase.   [Followup—The Department has requested information for the website from Task Force members from the University.   The website will be available soon.]

Phyllis Brazee suggested that it would be helpful to put emotion and feeling back into official learning documents, citing as an example that the work “appreciating” in the phrase “appreciating diversity” was removed from the Learning Results for being too “touchy feely.”

Joan McDonald asked for information on studies of schools that have adopted single-sex education, citing the Detroit public elementary schools as an example.   [Followup—Task Force members Richard Robles and Richard Kent each sent all Task Force members an email on June 19, 2004 that included articles and web links on this topic.   These have been added to the website that will be available soon.]

Katie Bauer noted that most schools don't incorporate the ideal of gender equity, and that most still expect all students to fit into one model of learning.   We may find that we need to recommend dismantling and rethinking the current system to some extent.   Several members noted that the focus in schools now is on identifying symptoms or conditions to be medicated, rather than on adjusting the school to help all students “fit in.”

Rebecca Sockbeson added that adding racism to the classism and sexism discussed by Lyn, Mary, and Mark escalates the problem.   We need to re-institutionalize anti-oppression and bring it back into our pedagogy.   Native American males in Maine have seen a stripping of their indigenous roles.   Females have too, but to a lesser extent since they still have motherhood.

Carla Ritchie suggested that high schools should offer parenting classes.   She described working with young parents of children in Head Start programs who have no parenting skills or knowledge.

NEXT MEETING:   The next meeting will be August 19, 2004 from 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM in the Cross State Office Building, Room 107.

ADJOURN   (12:45 PM)