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November 18 2014

(Not Really) Helping Minority Girls

New York Post
Naomi Schaefer Riley

Well, ladies, your time has finally come. After months of complaints that “My Brother’s Keeper,” the president’s effort to address the problems of black and Hispanic boys, was too exclusionary, the White House is going to start a parallel effort for girls.

Too bad it won’t actually do much for them.

Yes, people like Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw of the African American Policy Forum, who called “My Brother’s Keeper” “separate and still unequal,” may be satisfied.

White House aides will convene a Working Group on Challenges and Opportunities for Women and Girls of Color, an offshoot of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Someone needs to protect them from the war on women, right? Foundations have pledged $200 million-plus over five years for the effort.

Now, minority girls in this country face plenty of real problems — higher rates of poverty, bad neighborhood schools, single-parent families, enormous high-school-dropout rates, out-of-wedlock births.

But the working group is poised to merely trot out the same liberal agenda that has been failing minority girls (and boys) for decades.

In advance of the meeting, the administration released a report highlighting what it’s already done. At best, it has a “kitchen sink” feel.

The White House is concerned, for instance, that “women are slightly more likely — and people in certain communities of color are significantly more likely — to be the victims of fraud.”

So the Federal Trade Commission is helping the effort to improve the lives of minority women by . . . combatting consumer fraud. Really?

Most of the efforts are more predictable, if just as unlikely to be effective.

On education, the White House has focused on the notion that women (and especially minority women) are underrepresented in science and engineering. The assumption, of course, is that discrimination is to blame.

And so the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights “created a STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] resources Web page in 2012 to make clear to schools, students, and parents that the civil rights laws enforced by OCR apply to STEM courses and programs.”

Never mind the fact that the girls in these communities (just like the boys) are stuck in failing schools where they’re often not learning basic math skills. The problem isn’t that more of the girls are choosing to be English professors rather than engineers.

The White House is also concerned that minority girls are underrepresented in school athletics.

“According to research from the National Women’s Law Center, just 64 percent of Hispanic and black girls and 53 percent of Asian American girls play sports, compared with 76 percent of white girls.” Again, we get threats of legal action offered as the solution.

Similarly, the White House touts President Obama’s support of “equal pay” legislation and touts the administration’s lawsuits against companies it accuses of discrimination, including “a $290,000 settlement against Medtronic . . . for Hispanic production workers who were paid less than comparable white workers performing the same job.”

Even if you think widespread discrimination is really what’s holding back minority girls, is this really where you’d focus your efforts?

The rest of the report is progressive paint-by-the-numbers — promoting breastfeeding, more access to birth control, sex education, more prosecution of sexual assault, etc.

Meanwhile, the report barely mentions marriage or family. It’s a safe bet the working group will also ignore these central issues.

Growing up in a home with two married parents reduces the likelihood that a child will live in poverty by 82 percent. Yet the rate of unwed births to Hispanics is 24 percentage points higher than for whites; for blacks, 43 points higher.

Girls who grow up in homes with fathers are not only more likely to avoid poverty, they’re also more likely to delay sexual activity, and more likely to complete their educations.

But working groups on girls and women (especially those whose real point is to appease people complaining about too much attention being paid to boys) won’t spend much time thinking about the role of men.

The truth is that Uncle Sam can’t be our brothers’ keepers. Or our sisters’.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is an Independent Women’s Forum senior fellow.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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