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How The Hunger Games Reminds Us that We Need to Center Black Girls

Posted by Amy Tannenbaum, Program Assistant | Posted on: September 26, 2014 at 09:48 am

I am an avid fan of dystopia, especially of the young adult variety — from the Divergent trilogy to The Maze Runner to more obscure picks like Orleans and The Summer Prince, I devour it faster than it can come out.

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Shining Light on the Discriminatory School Discipline Practices Hurting African American Girls

Posted by Amelia Bell, Intern | Posted on: September 25, 2014 at 01:45 pm

Did you know that during the 2011-12 school year, 12 percent [PDF] of all African American girls were suspended from school? That is a higher rate than any other group of girls, surpassed only by African American boys (20%) and American Indian/Alaska Native boys (13%). Did you know that during the 2006-07 school year, an average of 18 percent [PDF] of African American middle school girls were suspended, a rate surpassed only by African American boys?

These are just a couple of the data points discussed in a report released this week — although in the works for years now — by the National Women's Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. The report, Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity, shines a rare spotlight on data showing the educational disparities between African American girls and other girls, the economic consequences of those disparities, the barriers that get in the way of their success, and interventions that could make a difference.

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African American Girls and STEM: Schools Can Do Better

Posted by Lauren Frohlich, Fellow | Posted on: September 24, 2014 at 10:24 am

These days, people talk a lot about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Promoting participation in STEM fields has been a priority of President Obama's for a while now. There’s concern that the United States is falling behind in STEM relative to our international peers. Campaigns to increase the involvement in STEM fields of women and people of color are propelled by reports like the recent one revealing the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. But what people don't talk about as much is what happens when the factors of race and gender are combined, and how we can get more African American girls into STEM fields.

STEM fields are widely thought of as the key to future success, from a national and individual perspective. Companies need workers trained in STEM to fill thousands of vacant technical jobs as part of what has been called the “skills gap,” and these jobs tend to pay well [PDF]. To make individuals more competitive in the job market and the United States more competitive on the world stage, we need to begin with a focus on STEM education. A new report from NWLC and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund examines the challenges African American girls face in education, including the lack of adequate STEM resources in schools that African American girls are far more likely than white girls to attend, as well as stereotypes that dissuade girls from pursuing STEM.

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A Call to Action to Support African American Girls

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: September 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

The headlines are sometimes shocking: A 7 year old African American girl sent home from her charter school and told by school officials that her hairstyle was not "presentable" and violated the dress code, which termed "dreadlocks" and "afros" to be "faddish" and "unacceptable." A 16-year-old African American female student in Richmond, CA, brutally raped and assaulted in the campus courtyard during her school's homecoming dance. An African American student parent, who took a full load of Advanced Placement courses her senior year and finished at the top of her class, forced to share her "valedictorian" title because she was deemed "a big mess" by the principal. These are the types of stories that make my heart hurt — for those girls and for their families, but also for the many girls whose stories are never told. And these are the types of stories that drove the National Women's Law Center to partner with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund on a report that fills an important gap in existing data on educational opportunity for African American girls.

Today we released Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity. Unlocking Opportunity shines a light on the prevalence of race and gender stereotypes and other barriers that adversely impact the educational experiences of African American girls. And it highlights critical data about the education and economic outcomes that result.

We wrote this report to examine the many hurdles faced by African American girls and boys — such as the under-resourcing of schools — and to emphasize those that have a distinct impact on African American girls due to the intersection of gender and race stereotypes, such as disproportionate and overly harsh disciplinary practices that exclude them from school for minor and subjective infractions such as dress code violations (yes, some schools really make students miss out on learning time for subjective dress code and hair "infractions"); pervasive sexual harassment and violence; discrimination against pregnant and parenting students; and limited access to athletics and other extracurricular activities.

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It takes money to fight poverty. A Responsible Estate Tax can help.

Posted by Reggie Oldak, Senior Counsel and Director of Government Relations | Posted on: September 19, 2014 at 02:41 pm

We learned from this week's Census poverty data that more than one in seven women — nearly 18 million — live in poverty, and poverty rates are even higher for single mothers, women of color, and older women living alone. They and their families need the support of programs that help them make ends meet and escape poverty. Where does the government get the revenue to fund these programs and services? Taxes.

Tax revenues pay for Head Start, child care assistance, Medicaid, Medicare, nutrition assistance, public schools, tuition assistance, and job training. They pay for roads and bridges, medical research, disaster relief, clean air and water, public safety, and much more — programs that make our families, communities, and economy stronger.

But years of tax policies that have disproportionately benefited wealthy individuals and big corporations have left us with a tax system that is both unbalanced and insufficient to meet national priorities. Unfair tax breaks cost the federal government billions of dollars a year  money that could be used to protect the most vulnerable now and expand opportunity for a stronger future for everyone.

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Sexual Assault and Title IX: Not Just a Concern for Colleges

From congressional and White House recommendations on reducing campus sexual assaults earlier this year to the White House’s unveiling this week of a new prevention campaign, the problem of sexual assault on college campuses has been receiving an unprecedented level of attention of late. Shining the spotlight on a problem that affects the educational opportunities of so many young women across the country is important. But we must not forget that sexual harassment and violence is also an all too present reality for many girls in elementary and secondary schools. And Title IX – the civil rights law that is not just about sports but also requires all schools that receive federal funding to address sexual harassment – protects these K-12 students too.

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Some House Lawmakers Say If It Ain’t Broke, Break It

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: September 18, 2014 at 03:09 pm

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been busy. In the last week alone, the Commission recovered $40,000 for a veteran who was fired for having pregnancy-related health issues, $260,000 for four women who were sexually harassed in their bank teller jobs, and $1.3 million in a class action suit against a restaurant that believed black workers belonged in the back of the house. In addition, the Commission continues to issue guidance to employers and investigate the tens of thousands of workplace discrimination complaints reported to the Commission each year—all under sequestration, which continues to strain agency resources.

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Governors: Get Your State Off This List

Posted by Stephanie Glover, Health Policy Fellow | Posted on: September 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

This week’s annual release of Census Bureau insurance data tells us that, once again, all states are not equal. Over 90 percent of women aged 18 to 64 in states like Massachusetts and Minnesota are insured. But, again this year, Texas leads the nation in the proportion of women without health insurance, with nearly one-third of women going without health coverage.

Here is the sad list of the worst states for women’s health insurance coverage:

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