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TASK FORCE ON GENDER EQUITY IN EDUCATION
THURSDAY, AUGUST 19, 2004
ROOM 107, CROSS STATE OFFICE BUILDING, AUGUSTA
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

MINUTES

MEMBERS ATTENDING: First Lady Karen Baldacci, Patrick Phillips; Diana Doiron; Lyn Brown; Mary Madden; Rich Robles; Lisa Plimpton; Charlie Harrington; Rob Pfeiffer; Rich Kent; Joyce McPhetres; Joan McDonald; Carla Ritchie; Sharon Wilson-Barker; Denise Lord; Phyllis Brazee; Bobbie Niehaus; Katie Bauer; and Susan Corrente (facilitator).

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS: Patrick welcomed First Lady Karen Baldacci, Honorary Chair of the Task Force, to the meeting and those in attendance introduced themselves to her. Mrs. Baldacci expressed her support of the work of the Task Force in light of the need for both creating energy and offering practical guidance around this issue.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JUNE 3, 2004 MEETING MINUTES: The minutes of the June 3, 2004 meeting, so ably prepared by Lisa Plimpton and emailed to all members, were accepted by consensus, without discussion.

SCHEDULE OF UPCOMING MEETINGS, PRESENTATIONS AS OF JULY 28, 2004: The schedule through December, 2004, emailed to all members, was reviewed with the following items highlighted: the September meeting with Michael Kimmel will be at Colby College, thanks to our host Lyn Brown, and will be in the afternoon (2 PM - 5 PM) instead of the usual morning time; the October meeting will be at the Buchanan Building at UMO, thanks to our hosts Mary Madden and other members of the Task Force from UMO.

DISCUSSION OF "INTERIM" EVENT, FALL 2004: Patrick reviewed the proposal of the Event Planning Team, shared by email with all members after the Team's July 8, 2004 meeting. The proposal is to participate at two upcoming, related events in September that are already scheduled (the Bridging the Gap conference with William Pollock, Judith Jordan in Camden September 10, 11; events associated with Michael Kimmel's visit to Maine besides his presentation to the Task Force. The members were generally in favor of this proposal. Lyn recommended that we alert the sponsors of these events to the work we're doing. [Followup - Patrick has sent the website link to the contacts for both events; Susan has requested from them the number of attendees at each event, for purposes of supplying hard copies of information about the Task Force at the events.] Also, the Research Team recommended that youth be included in some way, and that their input be reflected in the work of the Task Force. Mary repeated the caution she had shared in an email to all Task Force members that the reporting of bias by students on survey and in focus groups can be unreliable because the instances of bias aren't always perceived even by those who are the targets of it and there is a lack of support for young women to report it; it will be important to develop ways of incorporating youth voices that are truly useful. Carla suggested that each Task Force member who works with youth could design a method to canvas their own groups for input. Charlie noted that research on community influences will also be critical, to see where the students "lose momentum". Sharon noted that her belief is that what works for girls should work for boys, and vice versa - that the best practices will be gender neutral and serve both. Phyllis stressed the importance of storytelling for thoughtful, meaningful input from youth; it is an approach she herself uses in her seminars with students. Richard suggested constructing a model curriculum/program or model "day in the life" of a student as a way of illustrating best practices that foster gender equity in education. Karen recommended incorporating the work of Peter Benson of the Search Institutes on the assets that are needed to support students in accessing all opportunities regardless of gender. Susan suggested that a presentation on the Search Institute's asset- based approach might be helpful for the Task Force and recommended that Susan Savell (Communities for Children) might be a good resource for the presentation. There was general consensus that an approach that combined all these ideas would be best. [Followup- the Research Team is meeting again on August 27, 2004 (9 AM - 12 Noon, Department of Education, Room # 500) and will identify any additional resources needed, for the bibliography or as presentations to the Task Force, to further the development of a plan for youth input to be presented to the Task Force at the October meeting. Members who are not part of the Research Team but interested in working on this issue are invited to be part of this meeting at the time/place noted above.]

DISCUSSION OF REPORT AND TIMELINE: Patrick reviewed the proposal, shared with all members by email in early July, of the Research Team for the Report to be issued by the Task Force. Rob recommended a video as an accompaniment, as an effective teaching tool. Susan shared the experience of the Commission for Ethical and Responsible Student Behavior in its attempts to produce a video for the same reason - very difficult, very time-consuming and very expensive; she recommended that we not try to do a video and the Report, but if anyone on the Task Force has experience in video production and wants to follow-up on this on their own, we don't want to discourage them from doing so. Richard indicated that he will forward a proposal of the production of a video. Katie added that a video can be a much more effective teaching tool than a report; several members agreed. Others noted that the video wouldn't necessarily be effective on its own but should be accompanied by training/professional development or community forums; these could also be videotaped for distribution, if useful. Richard suggested a homepage for every school or a "daily paper" issued by the Department of Education for teachers, on best practices. [Follow-up - the Research Team will consider these ideas when they meet on August 27, 2004 to refine the Report proposal.]

PRESENTATION: CARLA RITCHIE AND SHARON WILSON-BARKER, NATIONAL CENTER FOR STUDENT ASPIRATIONS: Sharon and Carla shared their work on a pilot project that continues the surveying of students statewide but captures some other issues not included in their first survey project (Students Speak - the Maine Benchmarking Initiative), several of which speak to possible issues of gender equity in education. It is consistent with the assets work mentioned above, but this instrument is school-based. They will also be developing a teacher survey, to compare perceptions. The instrument should be ready in the fall, 2004 for implementation in January, 2005. Several questions emerged as potential areas of research: (Rob - do guidance counselors use different approaches with boys than with girls?; Lyn - school presents expectations that may differ from what the culture presents, with respect to what's "cool"; Sharon - boys score higher on the influence of media on themselves; they also choose easier tasks, which raises the question of whether they are presented with the right choices; Denise - it may be that boys define "success" differently, maybe as not doing well in school; Patrick - let's see if there are gender differences in the constructed responses on the MEA. [Follow-up- Patrick will see if Brud Maxcy can supply data on any gender differences in the constructed responses on the MEA. Rob will think of the implications of this preliminary data for his work with the CDC in the Midcoast area, and will include Cheryl DiCara (Bureau of Health) in developing this assessment, because of her work in suicide prevention.]

PRESENTATION: RICH KENT, UNIVERSITY OF MAINE: Rich introduced the members to Room 109, his responsive classroom, by means of a photographic tour. He then invited members to identify what they saw as representative of a responsive classroom. Rob's comment summarized the many features of the responsive classroom that were identified; he noted that, above all, he saw “a male modeling the love of learning". Rich also noted his involvement in the Maine Writing Project which includes 180 teachers who are "responsive" teachers and they will be available to provide training, starting this fall.

NEXT MEETING: September 16, 2004 from 2 PM - 5 PM, at Colby College ( Robins Room, second floor of Roberts Union) [Presentation by Michael Kimmell, Author and Professor at SUNY Stony Brook].

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