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Lara S. Kaufmann, Senior Counsel & Director of Education Policy for At-Risk Students

Lara S. Kaufmann is Senior Counsel and Director for Education Policy for At-Risk Students.  She works on the advancement of women and girls at school and in the workplace. Lara engages in litigation, advocacy, and public education, with a particular focus on improving educational outcomes for at-risk girls, including pregnant and parenting students. Lara co-authored the Center’s 2012 report, A Pregnancy Test for Schools: The Impact of Education Laws on Pregnant and Parenting Students, as well as its 2009 report, Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation. Before joining the Center, Lara was a Staff Attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and prior to that she was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago. Lara also worked with the law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery, and was law clerk to then-Chief Judge Marvin Aspen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Lara is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University School of Law.

My Take

White House Report and Event on Girls and Women of Color

Yesterday, the White House released a report [PDF] called Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity and announced that the White House Council on Women and Girls will now have a working group to focus on the particular barriers that women and g

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End Discrimination in Our Schools, Not Just in the Workplace

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support. If ENDA becomes law, employers across the nation will be barred from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a major step forward for LGBT rights and shows just how far our country has come. 

But we can’t stop there. While the Senate has taken a step to end LGBT discrimination in the workplace, there is no federal law that explicitly prohibits the same kind of discrimination in public schools. School districts across the country have been keeping LGBT students out of athletics programs.  Censoring Gay-Straight Alliance groups. Cancelling prom rather than letting a student bring her girlfriend to the dance. 

The situation is especially urgent due to the shocking levels of harassment and bullying LGBT students face every day.

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Kansas Boy Suspended for Not Being Manly Enough

Ready for the absurd?

Yesterday a Kansas school suspended a 13-year old student for wearing a purse. Happened to be a Vera Bradley bag, but that shouldn’t matter, because it wasn’t the bright colors or quilted paisley design that prompted the disciplinary action. It was the fact that the student is a boy. There is no school rule about wearing purses, and female students who do so are not punished. But widely held, stubborn stereotypes are that females carry purses and men don’t. This boy, Skylar, defied that stereotype, and his school wouldn’t tolerate it.

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We Need to Help Boys AND Girls of Color Succeed

Posted by Lara S. Kaufmann, Senior Counsel & Director of Education Policy for At-Risk Students | Posted on: September 16, 2013 at 01:26 pm

Ever since the Trayvon Martin shooting, people across the country have engaged in an important dialogue about the challenges faced by African American boys and young men in this country, and rightly so. A focus on – and substantial investment in – the success of males of color in this country is critical and long overdue.

But as the National Women’s Law Center has said time and again, there has been very little attention to the barriers to education that girls and young women of color face, which should not be underestimated in terms of their gravity or their impact. I saw only one piece after the verdict, the Washington Post’s ‘Bolster’ black boys, but don’t forget about black girls (and quoting President Obama’s remarks) pointing out that the important focus on African American boys does not have to be at the exclusion of African American girls, who face very real – but sometimes different – obstacles in education, the juvenile justice system, and beyond.

That’s why I was so excited to read this excellent interview with Dr. Monique Morris conducted by New American Media and shared by the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign with the headline “Are Girls Invisible in the Movement for Boys and Men of Color?”.

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Students Should Come First; Save Bipartisan Bickering for Another Day

Because Congress did not act by July 1, subsidized student loan interest rates doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. And student debt in the United States already totals $1.1 trillion, more than credit card debt. 

Today, the Senate will vote on the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, which would bring the interest rate back down to 3.4 percent for one more year while Congress can consider a long-term solution. The alternative proposal would be more permanent, but would tie the student loan interest rate to the market, with no cap. That may reduce the deficit, but on the backs of needy students!

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