While most Arlington teachers believe sexual bias is being eliminated from the county curriculum and school activities, their students don't agree so readily.
A countywide survey of elementary and secondary students and teachers this year found discrepancies of 30 to 40 percent in some perceptions by students and teachers regarding sexism. The survey covered attitudes about sex-role stereotyping in areas such as textbooks, physical education programs and disciplinary procedures.
When asked if they are taught about the role of women in history, 44 percent of the elementary school students answered yes, as opposed to 92 percent of their teachers who said yes. At the secondary level, 61 percent of the students said yes, while 84 percent of their teachers said yes. The differences were somewhat similar on the same question about women in literature.
When asked it boys' and girls' teams have comparable facilities, equipment and scheduling for secondary-school sports activities, 80 percent of the teachers and 75 percent of the students said yes. But the responses differed greatly on whether team publicity was comparable -- 80 percent of the teachers said yes, while only 56 percent of the students agreed.
Among elementary teachers, 98 percent said there was no difference in the discipline for girls or boys, but only 64 percent of their pupils agreed.
The wide-ranging survey was conducted to update the county on its progress in complying with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in school programs and activities receiving federal aid. The report was presented to the Arlington County School Board at its meeting last week.
In other action at the meeting, the board agreed to drop a social studies competency test as a requirement for high school graduation. Instead, the requirement can be met by students if they complete courses in world geography, Virginia and U.S. history and government.
Students still must pass minimum competency tests in reading and mathematics, as required by state law.