Letter to President of the United States George W. Bush
Rep. Berman Marks 34th Anniversary of Title IX by Asking President Bush to Restore Former, Stronger Policy
Friday, June 23 is the 34th anniversary of Title IX. Rep. Berman will mark this anniversary by continuing to promote the national effort to save Title IX - by putting pressure on the Bush Administration to withdraw the damaging new Title IX policy that the Administration issued in March 2005.
On March 17, 2005, the Department of Education, without any notice or public input, issued a new Title IX policy - under the guise of a "Clarification" - that has created a major loophole through which schools can evade their obligation to provide equal opportunity in sports. The policy allows schools to gauge female students' interest in athletics by doing nothing more than conducting an e-mail survey and to claim - in these days of excessive e-mail spam - that a failure to respond to the survey shows a lack of interest in playing sports. The so-called "Clarification" eliminates schools' obligation to look broadly and proactively at whether they are satisfying women's interests in sports, and will thereby perpetuate the cycle of discrimination in sports to which women have been subjected. This "Clarification" violates basic principles of equality and threatens to reverse the enormous progress women and girls have made in sports since the enactment of Title IX in 1972.
On June 22, 2005, more than 140 House Democrats, including Rep. Berman, sent a letter to President Bush, urging the President to withdraw this new policy. The text of that letter is below.
So far, unfortunately, the President has failed to reverse course.
The text of the letter follows:
June 22, 2005
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On March 17, 2005, the Department of Education revised its policy on Title IX issuing the "Additional Clarification of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy: Three-Part Test - Part Three," allowing schools to rely solely on the results of a single survey, which can be administered through e-mail, to gauge women's interest in athletics and demonstrate compliance with Title IX. We are concerned that this "Clarification" significantly weakens Title IX and threatens the 33-year old law's remarkable success in opening doors for women and girls across the country. We respectfully request that you immediately withdraw this Clarification.
We strongly believe that use of a survey alone, let alone an e-mail survey, cannot accurately determine student athletic interest or ability. By allowing schools to rely exclusively on a survey, the Clarification creates a major loophole and lowers the standard for Title IX compliance, jeopardizing the number of athletic opportunities available to women and girls in schools across the country. While the Department's previous policies allowed the use of surveys in determining compliance, schools also had to look at other factors, such as input from coaches and administrators and interest in the surrounding schools and community sports leagues, which together provide a more comprehensive and accurate reflection of student interest. Under the new Clarification, the Department will allow schools to simply interpret a lack of response to the survey as evidence of lack of interest.
This harmful change, issued without public notice or opportunity for public comment, appears to be the latest in a series of deliberate attempts by your Administration to weaken Title IX.
On June 27, 2002, former Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced the establishment of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics to "examine ways of strengthening enforcement and expanding opportunities to ensure fairness for all college athletes." This Commission made a series of negative recommendations that would have threatened Title IX, and retreated after meeting significant public opposition.
For 33 years, Title IX has taken down the No Girls Allowed' signs from school playing fields, shop classes, and career counseling centers. Since it was enacted in 1972, young women's participation in athletics has increased 400 percent at the college level and 800 percent in high schools. Athletic opportunities have not only helped women and girls excel physically and academically but have also helped them avoid risky behaviors such as drug use and teenage pregnancy and have increased their self-esteem and confidence. Female athletes have worked tirelessly over the years to gain respect and equality, and because of their efforts, generations of young women will have an equal opportunity to succeed.
We urge you to direct the Department of Education to withdraw this new Clarification. Our nation's women and girls deserve no less.
Thank you for your consideration.
Howard L. Berman and
140 Other House Democrats