Lack of funds threatens equity program

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    By Emily Andersen

    Education funds have been cut across Utah, and vulnerable programs have gone with them.

    At UVSC, a program designed to increase equity in schools is in danger of being discontinued.

    The Equity in Opportunity: Training and Resource Center at UVSC has been working since 1991 to increase equality in school classrooms.

    Because of lack of funds they may have to discontinue their services and follow the statewide trend for these types of centers, said Jenny Chamberlain, director of the center.

    “Basically we are running out of money,” Chamberlain said. “We have been getting support from UVSC, but with federal and state budget cuts, education has really been hammered.”

    Chamberlain said the center is so necessary that if it is closed she will use her spare time to keep the center open.

    “I have been fighting for three years to keep this center open and will continue to fight,” she said.

    Lori Gillman, a teacher in the Uintah School District, was the former coordinator for the gender equity program in her district.

    Gillman said her district no longer has a gender equity program, but there is still a need for the resources the center offers.

    “Everyone needs a reminder,” Gillman said. “There is always a need for this, but without the funding it won”t happen.”

    Schoolteachers say this program and others like it are necessary and should continue to be funded.

    Beginning in 1989, state funds from the federal government were allotted to each state to set up programs to help eliminate bias in the classroom and increase equality among the students.

    Four centers were established in Utah for this purpose, but two of them have already been discontinued due to lack of funds. The remaining two, including the program at UVSC, are heading in the same direction.

    Mary Anne Hillier, an English teach at Spanish Fork High School, said the center is a necessary program and should continue to be given funds to function.

    The goals of the UVSC center are to promote tolerance for diversity in classrooms, work environments, and communities, and to help the workforce in Utah to become self-sufficient, Chamberlain said.

    Chamberlain promotes these goals through school assemblies and presentations to community groups across Utah.

    Chamberlain said a major equity problem in the United States is the wage gap between men and women. She hopes to eliminate this through the local equity program.

    Chamberlain said one way to close the gap is to start teaching young children, especially young girls, how to be more productive in society.

    “We need to teach children to look at all of the possibilities,” Chamberlain said.

    Chamberlain said women tend to look for jobs that will still allow them to raise a family. Chamberlain said this way of thinking causes women to enter lower-paying careers, with strict schedules and no opportunity for advancement – none of which is conducive to happier family environments.

    She said there are opportunities for higher paying jobs in more technical professions that women simply are not aware of or they do not look at because they are not recognized as traditional jobs for women.

    Hillier said her students – including the girls – are more aware of the reality of having a career after high school, but it does not make them want to build a good foundation in high school.

    “The girls are concerned about looking like models and the boys are trying to be macho,” Hillier said. “The girls are just worried about what the boys think, and the boys are just worried about what the girls think.”

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