Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Senate vote on
Title IX expected

The resolution urges Congress
to leave the Mink Act alone

By Pat Omandam

State senators are expected to vote soon on a House concurrent resolution that urges Congress to take a strong stand opposing any changes by the Bush administration to the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

"As those of us living and working in Hawaii know, our late Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink has left a mark on national politics with her instrumental role in the passage of Title IX," said Allicyn Hikida Tasaka in her written testimony yesterday before the Senate Education Committee.

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"Title IX has had a direct impact on the lives of millions of women and girls, broadly expanding their opportunities to participate in athletics and higher education," said Tasaka, executive director of the state Commission on the Status of Women.

The panel approved House Concurrent Resolution 31 with amendments yesterday, sending it to the full Senate for a floor vote. The 1972 federal law bans recipients of federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex.

Last June 27, U.S. Education Secretary Ron Paige created the Commission on Opportunities in Athletics, on the 30th anniversary of Title IX, to research, analyze and obtain broad public input on how the current federal law can be improved.

The 15-member panel released is final report on Feb. 26 and adopted 23 recommendations that focused on commitment, clarity, fairness and enforcement of the act. Among the suggestions is that the federal Office for Civil Rights make clear that cutting teams in order to demonstrate compliance with Title IX is "a disfavored practice."

It also said the Civil Rights office should aggressively enforce Title IX and impose sanctions for institutions that do not comply.

Proponents said yesterday the commission's recommendations will weaken the law. Harry Yee, chairman of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, in written testimony, said it would be a step back for Congress to diminish the law's promise of equality in education on the basis of sex.

"For over 30 years our nation has reaped the rewards of the law in countless ways," Yee said. "The Legislature should urge Congress to maintain the law as it exists and not reduce educational opportunities for women."

Mink, a Democrat, died last Sept. 28 in Honolulu of viral pneumonia. Ed Case, a former state representative, won a special election last fall to finish Mink's term and was elected to his own two-year term in January.

President Bush renamed the Title IX law after Mink last October.

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