STEVE INSKEEP, host:
You can't talk for long with people involved in school sports before somebody mentions Title 9. That law revolutionized American sports, forcing schools to spend as much on girls' sports as on boys'. It's estimated now that more than 3 million girls play sports at the high-school level alone. Yet even with all the changes, an advocacy group contends that some schools do not follow the law. NPRs Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN: The National Womens Law Center filed complaints yesterday against 12 school districts, including New York City and Chicago as well as districts in Georgia, South Dakota, California.��
According to data provided by the districts, there are double-digit gaps between the percentage of girls enrolled and the lower percentage of girls playing sports. Title 9 says the numbers are supposed to be about the same. Neena Chaudry is senior counsel for the National Womens Law Center.
Ms. NEENA CHAUDRY (Attorney, National Women's Law Center): These numbers are so stark, and the gaps are so big, that it shows that they have a lot of, you know, explaining to do.
GOLDMAN: The Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights will investigate the complaints. When reached yesterday, some of the districts said theyll work to remedy the problems. But they didnt like that the center based its complaints on figures from 2006, the most recent available numbers. Sue Simons is with the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, school district.
Ms. SUE SIMONS (South Dakota school district): Those are old numbers - four years ago. We know, for a fact, that those numbers are not what they are today.
GOLDMAN: She says since 2006, the district has added two girls' sports: competitive dance and competitive cheerleading. And if an OCR investigation requires adding even more?
Ms. SIMONS: It would be very difficult, based upon the funding of education, particularly in South Dakota.
GOLDMAN: Its a significant issue outside of South Dakota. How do you add sports programs in a down economy thats forcing many districts to cut teachers and education programs? Critics worry itll mean cutting boys' sports to get numbers more even. National Womens Law Center Co-President Marcia Greenberger says it doesnt have to happen if districts ask the following...
Ms. MARCIA GREENBERGER (National Women's Law Center): Have you looked to your parent body? Have you looked to the community? Have you looked to what kinds of volunteer services and help you might be able to engage?�
GOLDMAN: Have you, in short, found your Dennis Albert?
Mr. DENNIS ALBERT: My daughter started skating way back when she was 3 and a half. And then weve been into hockey for the last 10, 12 years.
GOLDMAN: Dennis Albert is from Presque Isle, Maine, up near the Canadian border. His daughter Hilary played hockey with the boys up until high school. She was very good, but too small to make the boys' team. There wasnt a girls' team. Dennis went to the school superintendent, who said a girls' team would cost $150,000. Dennis and his wife went to work - selling jewelry, collecting bottles, holding an auction supper.�After three years?
Mr. DENNIS ALBERT: We raised 23,000. So were a big step away.
GOLDMAN: Probably too big to help Hilary, whos now a 17-year-old junior. But Dennis says hell keep going. He says it hurt Hilarys self-esteem not to make the boys' team. And he doesnt want to see that with other local girls eager to compete in high school.
Mr. ALBERT: They should be able to play. And eventually, they will play. We just got to erode down that budget that he wants, hopefully - or hopefully, they can realize that the girls want to play.
GOLDMAN: Presque Isle wasn't in one of yesterdays targeted districts. But in the minds of Title 9 proponents, its as good an example as anywhere that a law thats brought so much change still has a ways to go.
Tom Goldman, NPR News.
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