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Arne Duncan Tweets About Title IX, Female Student-Athletes

The secretary of education took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to field questions on Title IX, which he called "one of the greatest civil rights successes in our history."

The legislation, which requires all schools that receive federal funding to provide equal educational and athletic opportunities to both males and females, has its 40th anniversary on June 23.

To raise awareness of the anniversary, the American Association of University Women hosted the tweet-up with Duncan on Friday. Joining him was Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the Dept. of Ed, and the host of the tweet-up, Lisa Maatz, the AAUW's director of public policy and government relations.

Duncan stressed early in the session that Title IX, while most often applied to athletics, also has implications for STEM courses and degree attainment. (Remember, Title IX applies to all athletic and educational opportunities.)

But Duncan didn't shy away from discussing how Title IX has impacted opportunities for youth female athletes over the past four decades, either.

He tweeted, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, since 1972 access to men's sports has not been diminished." He followed by emphasizing that Title IX does not require schools to eliminate any athletic teams; it only mandates that males and females receive equal athletic opportunities.

Ali made that same point, saying that the Dept. of Ed. "disfavors cutting men's sports" to comply with Title IX.

Duncan said that budget issues were often to blame for reductions in both men's and women's sports, not Title IX.

When asked if Title IX was a quota, Ali responded with surprise, saying "Title IX has 3 flexible ways to comply." Schools don't need to pass all three prongs to prove their compliance with Title IX; they only need to pass one of the three of their choosing.

Ali told Maatz, the host from AAUW, that the Dept. of Ed.'s office for civil rights received 747 Title IX complaints in 2011 alone.

The Dept. of Ed. opened Title IX investigations into Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, in 2011, although most of the Idaho cases and the entire Oregon investigation were later dropped.

Duncan told Maatz that since the passage of Title IX, female participation in high school sports has increased more than tenfold.

The latest participation data from the National Federation of State High School Associations backs up Duncan's claim. In the 1971-72 school year (the year before the passage of Title IX), 294,015 females participated in high school athletics, whereas 3,173,549 females competed in high school sports in the 2010-11 school year.

Is there any wonder Duncan called Title IX one of the most successful civil rights laws in history?

You can review the whole tweet-up by searching for the hashtag #T9Talk on Twitter.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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