June 22 2012
Title IX: 37 Words that Changed History
Vicki E. Alger
Earlier this week U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called Title IX “one of the great educational and civil rights success stories of the last 40 years.” He added that:
When Congress enacted Title IX, it seemed to simply enshrine a universal sentiment. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. And yet this simple, unexceptional 37-word long provision has forever altered our high schools and colleges for the better. … Contrary to the fears and doubts of some skeptics, Title IX did not become a zero-sum proposition. New opportunities for women didn't mean fewer opportunities for men. Title IX has been a win-win law that benefits both women and men.
That’s not entirely true. As my colleague Carrie Lukas demonstrates in a recent policy brief, it was Secretary Duncan’s own Department that imposed quota systems on college and universities. When its Office of Civil Rights attempted in 2005 to return to the original intention of Title IX by recommending replacing rigid quotas with student interest surveys instead, special interest groups cried foul and team ED dropped the ball. Lukas has a better idea:
The federal government should not be in the business of micromanaging how many men or women are playing volleyball or writing for student newspapers. Colleges should make opportunities available for both sexes, but outcomes should be driven by the students themselves.