Speeches—Opening Statement by Deputy Secretary William D. Hansen
Archived Information

Current Section
August 27, 2002
Speaker frequently
deviates from prepared text
Contact: Dan Langan
(202) 401-1576

Atlanta, Georgia—Thank you, Debbie, and good morning. On behalf of the Secretary, I welcome all of those in attendance and also all the commissioners.

This is an exciting time for all of us.

It's back to school time for our nation's youth, and I'm getting my six kids back to school. As I depart here, I'll be driving two kids out west to college, and two more are starting high school this week, so it's a wonderful time for all of us as we go about our work and understand how this work impacts our nation's youth and each of us individually. I do want to welcome the commissioners and also make it clear that these individuals have made an extensive commitment to this commission. We're very thankful that they are here today working on this important issue. This is a great call to public service, and we do appreciate your time and commitment. We know you're all very busy individuals in your respective lives, and we appreciate the leadership and vision that you're bringing to this commission.

I would also like to welcome the speakers who will be sharing with us this morning their experiences and understanding of Title IX. Most importantly, I want to welcome you, the general public, who we will also hear from this afternoon. Thank you all for taking the time from your busy schedules to be with us in Atlanta.

I would also like to thank Phillips Petroleum for sponsoring this event. It couldn't have been pulled off without their support, and we appreciate them.

The Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics has an important mission, and this Town Hall meeting will get it off to a great start.

I know I speak for Secretary Paige and President Bush and his entire administration when I say we are adamant in our support for Title IX. This landmark legislation has opened doors of opportunity for generations of women and girls to compete, to achieve, and to pursue their American dreams. There should be no question of our commitment to Title IX.

In large way because of Title IX, it is no longer unusual to see women in positions of power and influence, including running large companies, ruling from the bench, or advising the President of the United States. Women fill key leadership positions throughout the administration, including at the Department of Education, and, as we will hear today, actively participating in sports.

Without question, America's students do want to play sports and be involved in athletics. Sports have been great to our students and to our schools. It's a wonderful opportunity to work for Secretary Paige, who has extensive experience in athletics as he has been a player and a coach and has studied and written about sports. He knows how important athletics are for American students. That's why he's asked for the President to put these commissioners on his team. That's why the Commission is holding these Town Hall meetings.

Coach Paige and I are very proud of this quality team and look forward to working with you in the coming months.

I think it's important for most commissioners and also for the public to also understand President Bush's commitment to education in general. The Department of Education really has about four fundamental responsibilities. There are a couple of additional ones, but these four areas really encompass over 90 percent of the work that we do.

First is our K through 12 educational programs helping the disadvantaged students. Secondly is our higher education programs that open up doors of opportunity to 15 million Americans going off to college. The third is our special education programs which benefit the lives of millions of special education students. And fourthly is our enforcement of the civil rights laws of this country.

On each of those first three items President Bush has had an incredible agenda before him for the last 18 months. We have worked in a bipartisan way in pushing landmark legislation through Congress called No Child Left Behind, and when the President talks about No Child Left Behind, he literally means it. And this is legislation that is truly landmark, and it's changing the lives of millions of American students, and mostly disadvantaged students, to help all to have the opportunity to achieve.

And as President Bush so eloquently says, we've got to stamp out and stop bigotry of low expectations for our students, especially for our lower-income minority students, to make sure that they are held to the same standards and also given the opportunities to achieve as all students are.

On special education as well the President has called for more money and for more reforms of special education. He's called for budget increases, more than have been requested during the previous eight years. And he has a commission likewise on special education that will be guiding us through the reauthorization of the special education act.

Thirdly is the area of higher education. We are now providing almost five million Pell grants to low-income students to have access for opportunity for college. This is about one-third of the college adult population. The President also signed a bipartisan bill into law in January that offers the lowest interest rates and stability for student loans. They are now 4.06 percent and making college more affordable for all Americans who want to go on to college.

The tax cut bill last year also offered 20 plus billion dollars of incentives and savings opportunities for students to be able to go on to college.

As we enter into this fourth domain, I just think it's very clear to understand the President's commitment and Secretary Paige's commitment to not being shy to reform, but also to make sure that the resources and reforms equal better results. And that is what our agenda has been all about for the last 18 months, and that's why we look forward to our agenda moving forward.

I would like to as we talk about the fourth component of the Department right now, we really are here to focus on Title IX. It has not just been an important civil rights law in our country, but it's also been an important educational law.

For the last 30 years Title IX has opened the doors of opportunity for women and girls to compete, to achieve, and to pursue their dreams. This law has made our nation richer as well as many of our individuals.

Thanks to the vigorous enforcement of Title IX as well as other social trends, more women than ever are playing sports, graduating from college, and pursuing their dreams.

President Bush and Secretary Paige fully support Title IX and the tremendous opportunities that have followed since its passage.

For example, let me just give you a couple of statistics. Girls and women sports have exploded in size and number at the high school and college levels. In 1971 before Title IX went into effect, more than 294,000 girls participated in high school sports. Last year that number exceeded 2.7 million, an 847 percent increase over the last 30 years.

Between 1981 and 1999 the number of college women's teams rose by two-thirds. According to the General Accounting Office, our colleges created nearly 3,800 new women sports teams, including 846 soccer teams, 516 cross country teams, 432 softball teams, 350 volleyball teams, 304 indoor track teams, and 302 basketball teams. Hopefully my four daughters get to take part in some of those sports.

In 1972 when Title IX became law, 44 percent of all Bachelor's degrees went to women. Today women earn more than half of the Bachelor's degrees in this country, 57 percent in the year 2000, and many women are pursuing careers that their grandmothers would have never dreamed of or considered.

Clearly the changes brought about by Title IX greatly expanded the opportunities for girls and women to achieve their greatest potential, and we at the Department of Education are working to build on these successes.

We celebrate not only the success, but also the spirit of Title IX, which says "open to all." Listen to these key words that are in the heart of Title IX, quoting out of the statute, "no person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." And it's a wonderful opportunity. We happen to have one of the authors of this language with us today, Senator Bayh. We look forward to hearing his comments.

As Title IX reaches this milestone of its 30th anniversary, it's appropriate to celebrate its achievements and to examine its effects and see if there are ways to improve it even more.

President Bush said recently that tremendous advances have been made in the fight for equality. We must remain diligent in enforcing our nation's laws, and we still have work to do in this area. I'm proud to be part of implementing the President's vision of a nation where civil rights laws are enforced fairly and vigorously. So the charge being given to the Commission is to gather facts, to listen to Americans, and to find out how Title IX sports programs are doing. I know each of you are experts in your field, but I think it's going to be very important for us to also do a lot of listening and to find out what we can about these programs.

At these meetings the commissioners will hear from the general public as well as experts who have distinguished themselves in public service and athletics. Their insights will be invaluable in helping us understand the promise and achievements of Title IX.

The Department of Education is fortunate to have them serving in these important positions of public trust. And of course we will benefit greatly from the perspective again of Senator Bayh, who is one of the authors of this landmark legislation.

All of us are united by our commitment to ensuring a fair and equitable plan to every boy and girl and every young man and young woman in America. It is my belief that an open and candid exchange of ideas will benefit this society, especially those young people who have made sports an integral part of their lives.

Again, let me clearly state that this administration is firmly committed to the spirit of access to sports for all our children. There can and should be no mistake about our intent. I know that Co-Chairs Cynthia Cooper and Ted Leland will encourage a lively discussion and also respectful listening and a thoughtful report.

It is my pleasure to introduce them to you today. Cynthia Cooper is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the sports marketing company ProHaven. Prior to that Cynthia, I think as everybody knows, led the Houston Comets to four WNBA championships. She also led the league in scoring as MVP during all four of her years. She also won two Olympic medals and two NCAA championships.

I think Cynthia is truly a hero for many of our boys and girls in this country. She's also a writer, a business leader, a singer and, more importantly, a mother. Most of all, she has been an aspiring example to all of our nation's youth.

Ted Leland is the Director of Athletics at Stanford University. During his tenure at the university he won 42 national team championships, including 20 women's titles. Indeed, Stanford has shown a remarkable competitiveness by winning eight straight Sears Directors' Cup championships.

Ted is not only a proven winner, he's also a strong supporter of women's athletics. In fact, Sports Illustrated For Women twice named Stanford the top college for women's athletics in this country.

When they perform well, our nation's schools and colleges give our youth the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. The sports teach them lessons they probably won't learn in the classrooms, lessons like good sportsmanship, a healthy lifestyle, and never giving up.

And I'm also convinced that our athletic and sports opportunities also promote patriotism in a lot of our country as well as opening up opportunities for coaching and teaching and mentoring, a very important part of our country.

As Ted and Cynthia know, the greatest beneficiaries of college sports are not the All Americans, they are not the medalists, they are not the heroes. The greatest benefits go to the students who discover often for the first time the joys of competition, of developing skills and muscles and teamwork.

All of us want to make sure that high school and college athletics are accessible and full of opportunity for everyone. The only barriers in athletics would be the records waiting to be broken.

Now I would like to turn the discussion over to our Co-Chair, Ted Leland.

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Last Modified: 03/06/2007