Gender Equity & Sports, Who Lost San Francisco?

BEIJING, CHINA – FEBRUARY 14: Defender Cayla Barnes #3 of Team United States celebrates her goal with defender Savannah Harmon #15 of Team United States in the second period against Team Finland during the Women’s Ice Hockey Playoff Semifinal match between Team United States and Team Finland on Day 10 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Wukesong Sports Centre on February 14, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New Bellwether publications on rural education out today, focusing on Colorado but with clear takeaways for other places. 

In China, tonight U.S. time, the United States Women’s Hockey Team plays Canada for the Gold Medal. It’s actually hard to overstate how dominant these two teams are, and if you follow D1 women’s hockey you see a lot of the players from both teams around the top schools. There are college teammates on both sides.

It’s also a storied and physical rivalry, as good as you’ll find in sports. In 2014, Canada beat the U.S. for the gold, it was brutal. In 2018, after an intense tune up series the U.S. team returned the favor in Korea and brought gold home in a shootout. There is literal, not metaphorical, romance to it all as well. Just a hell of a story.

Tonight, with many of the 2018 players back, the U.S. defends against Canada. A lackluster second period contributed to the U.S. Team’s only loss this tournament against Canada last week. The Canadians are undefeated. Unfortunately, the game is at 11p Eastern time. That’s pretty late if you have a school-aged daughter you’re trying to interest in hockey or sports in general.

It’s one of many slights. Pardon the dad moment here, but my daughter has a piece on that published this afternoon in Education Post.

I play hockey for a 16 and under girls’ team and, after the past two years, I can appreciate the disruption of COVID all too well. However, this isn’t about one tournament or COVID, it’s something bigger, long predating the pandemic. In my own experience, I can’t recall an instance where women’s hockey is accorded the same priority as the boys. When I was starting out, the boy’s teams got more ice time, training, and were always the top priority in the programs. The rink where I first learned to play didn’t even offer girls hockey despite being an NHL practice facility…

…Meanwhile, our Olympic women are slaying in Beijing and inspiring the next generation of girls. The United States-Canada Olympic rivalry is as good as you will find in sports. But equity in sports has to be about more than a few weeks of excitement. If we want more opportunities for girls to play then the national and international organizations must lead the way and set an example on a regular basis.

In April, I’m doing a session at the BARR National Conference with some of the women from the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team to talk about these issues and what schools can do to to create a more inclusive culture around sports.

Here’s an easy one. If you’re talking with students more about the men’s team – they’re out of the tournament – than the run these women have put up for the U.S. then you’re doing it wrong. But there is a lot more.

Yesterday in San Francisco voters recalled three school board members. There were a host of complaints but the clumsy and ahistorical school renaming at a time when schools were closed and admissions policies to for the city’s selective schools were being revised seems to have incensed voters. In particular Asian voters. What a surprise. It turns out when people’s kids are going to school in kitchens and closets they want you focused on that. And voters seem to take the commonsense stance that we shouldn’t treat elite schools like scarce elements, create more.

This dynamic – changes in advanced courses and selective admissions schools played a role in the Virginia vote in 2021 as well – especially in vote rich Loudoun and Fairfax counties. That still seems to escape a lot of notice. Perhaps because it doesn’t fit with the popular narrative so it doesn’t get as much attention. But did I mention yesterday’s recall was in San Francisco? People are intensely frustrated and there is a limit. We’re finding it.

The challenge for schools more generally is that the frustration runs in all directions and from all sides. That’s hard to navigate.

The challenge for Democrats, that’s more obvious.

Here’s Will Marshall: 

“Republicans are tapping into frustrations real and imagined, but we have left a vacuum,” he says. “We have no reform agenda. Our party is seen as propping up a bureaucratic status quo that many parents thought didn’t perform well during the pandemic. You can’t just point to Republican demagoguery about race and books and win the argument. You have to make voters a counteroffer.”

Returning to the Olympics, here’s Gwen Stefani’s take.

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