School Controversies

The most controversial issues impacting public school students today. From bullying to book bans, this is a comprehensive look at some of the most oft-debated issues. This section features articles on school segregation, religion, over-crowding, civil rights, and green technology.
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California School District to Monitor Social Media
Glendale Public Schools has hired a company to monitor student posts on social media. The district claims the practice will help school officials step in when a student threatens to hurt himself or someone else.
As more parents voice concerns about the dangers of cyber-bullying, one California school district has taken matters into its own hands. The Glendale Unified School District has hired an outside company to track students on social media and send reports of the results to school officials daily. The purpose of the new program is to protect students from potential trouble, including cyber-bullying, suicidal thoughts and even truancy. However, some are questioning whether the school district is blatantly infringing on students’ privacy rights in their quest to keep students a little safer.
 
Company to Analyze Social Media Posts
 
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Glendale district has hired Geo Listening, a social media monitoring service that specializes in tracking social media for school campuses. Glendale piloted the program on a smaller scale last year, hiring the company to monitor social websites of students at Hoover, Glendale and Crescenta Valley high schools. This year, the district will pay Geo Listening more than $40,000 to expand their services to eight high schools and middle schools in the district.
 
According to the Geo Listening website, their monitoring service provides daily reports to school officials about social website activity. Those daily reports break down social media messages into the following categories:
 
       ·      Cyber-bullying and bullying
       ·      Hate, harm and despair
       ·      Crimes and vandalism
       ·      Truancy
       ·      Substance abuse
 
The report also shares the frequency and severity of student posts within these categories. All of the information is taken off of public social media pages; texts, email and private messages are not monitored.
 
Glendale’s Decision to Go to Monitoring
 
The International Business Times reports that the school district decided to pilot the monitoring program after a student from the district, Drew Ferraro, committed suicide by jumping off the roof of Crescenta Valley High School. Bullying was allegedly a factor in the death of this teen.
 
“With modern technology, unfortunately we have to stay a step ahead of...
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Are Cell Phones and Public Schools Becoming a More Amicable Union?
Cell phone policies are changing at schools across the country, and some are even embracing the technology to enhance the learning experience or improve student safety.
Cell phones have traditionally been seen by school districts as distractions that interfere with the learning process. Most instituted bans against the use of cell phones during the school day. However, the advent of smart phones has led some districts to re-explore that decision, and some are now backing away from their bans. Are cell phones and public schools becoming a more amicable union, or are districts merely bowing to student pressure?
 
History of Cell Phone Bans in Schools
 
For more than a decade, cell phones and other technology devices have been banned in most public schools across the country. The bans were originally instituted to prevent classroom disruptions and distractions, according to the website for the School Safety and Security Services. As the technology has evolved, concerns have been raised over using the devices to cheat on exams. They have also been seen as a security concern, since phones can now discreetly take photographs of tests or students changing in the school locker room.
 
Over the years, the use of cell phones in schools has become a matter of debate for students, parents and teachers. Advanced technology has now made phones legitimate instructional tools, as students can now use their phones to access an unlimited amount of information from the Internet. Some have also argued that as cell phones become a more prevalent part of today’s culture, keeping phones out of the classroom prevents schools from moving with the times.
 
Arguments for Continuing the Ban
 
And so the debate began. Those who continue to support banning phones from classrooms maintain the issue of disruption to the learning process. WBEZ reports that many Chicago- area school districts will be continuing with cell phone restrictions in schools, despite requests from some principals and parents to allow limited use during the day.
 
“The policy has been for several years that students are not allowed to have cell phones during the academic day,” Tom Hernandez, a spokesperson for District 202, told WBEZ. “They are supposed to turn them off and...
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Minnesota Lawmakers Push Anti-Bullying Bill Forward
Minnesota is looking at a new law that would require tougher public school policies to combat bullying. The bill has passed the state House and is now waiting for a vote by the Senate.
An anti-bullying bill in the throngs of state legislature in Minnesota recently passed a major hurdle. The Minnesota House approved the bill designed to strengthen schools’ responses to bullying, in a vote that mostly ran along party lines. While many applaud this step forward as a way to more effectively protect children from damaging behavior in school, others have voiced concern that state lawmakers are overstretching their reach to the public school system.
 
About the Bill
 
According to TwinCities.com, the new anti-bullying bill was introduced by House representative Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis). Davnie says that bill is necessary, because the current 37-word anti-bullying law for the state is inadequate in protecting bullied victims. Davnie asserts that if his bill is passed, it would take Minnesota from being one of the weakest states in the country on bullying to “instead, being a leader in building safe and supportive school climates for all students.”
 
One of the most important features of the bill, according to a report at Minnesota Public Radio, is the fact that it defines what bullying is. Davnie explains, “It established clear definitions of bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and intimidation, and then sets a high bar for school involvement.”
 
In the new bill, bullying is identified as any word or action that “disrupts a student’s education.” It also lists bullying based on student race, sexual identity, disability or social status. If the bill passes, school employees will be required to attend training that teaches them how to identify bullies and how to prevent bullying behavior.
 
School districts would also face additional reporting requirements with detailed descriptions of bullying incidents. All formal complaints regarding bullying activity would need to be investigated. A statewide school climate center would be responsible for ensuring reporting and training occurred on schedule. Training for teachers and staff would become an ongoing part of professional development programs.
 
Why it’s Needed
 
Those in support of the new bill say a stronger law is needed to protect students from bullying in Minnesota schools. Current law requires all schools to have policies...
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Segregated Proms: An Ongoing Controversy in Georgia
We examine recent efforts by students to overturn the longstanding tradition of segregated proms in many areas of the state, and why the effort still faces challenges today.
Prom is a rite of passage for many high school students; a chance to celebrate with friends before everyone heads in different directions after graduation. For students at some Georgia high schools, the evening celebrations were restricted according to the color of a student’s skin. Segregated proms have been going on in some areas of Georgia for decades, since the schools backed out of sponsoring the events. In the hands of parents and students, proms have become an “invitation only” event, with black students hosting one party and white students hosting another.
 
Change is in the Air
 
This year, four students at Wilcox County High School decided it was time for a change. The female students, two white and two black, have decided it is time for their school to have an integrated prom. The students created an Integrated Prom Facebook page, where they wrote, “We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change. Well, as a group of adamant high school seniors, we want to make a difference in our community. For the first time in the history of our county, we plan to have an integrated prom.”
 
The four friends began their campaign when they decided they all wanted to be able to enjoy their senior prom together. One of the girls, Quanesha Wallace, had been elected homecoming queen for her school in the fall. However, she was unable to attend the white homecoming dance, since she is a black student. Instead, Wallace enjoyed her royal status at the first integrated homecoming dance the school ever hosted. Still, the snub by some of her white classmates “saddened her heart,” according to the Lawrenceville Patch.
 
Wallace teamed up with three of her classmates and friends; Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker and Keela Bloodworth, to launch the integrated prom campaign. The girls did not realize their efforts would soon grab national headlines, and the support of many political figures in Georgia. They have also received financial support to host the first integrated prom Wilcox County High School...
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CSCOPE: Innovative Curriculum or Threat to America’s Youth?
Amidst the growing controversy of CSCOPE curriculum, we explore both sides of the debate that is igniting in Texas and across the country.
Texas education has come under fire in recent months for introducing what has become the most controversial curriculum in the country to public school children. Known as CSCOPE, this “instructional material” has become the source of much debate in Texas and nationwide. Is CSCOPE, as some proponents assert, simply a way for state schools to ensure full instruction of the educational standards for Texas? Or is it something more sinister – propaganda to indoctrinate Texas youth in the ways of Muslimism, communism and terrorism? The answer to those questions may depend on which side of the political aisle you seek your answers.
 
What is CSCOPE?
 
According to the website, CSCOPE is “a comprehensive online curriculum management system.” It was developed by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC). TESCCC is comprised of all 20 education service centers in the state, which oversee a particular region of the state. The curriculum framework is designed to align with the standards for all academic areas in accordance with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
 
CSCOPE was first implemented into Texas classrooms during the 2006-2007 school year. At that time, there were 182 active districts using the CSCOPE system. As of last fall, 875 school districts are using CSCOPE in their classrooms. The extensive use of the system throughout the state has also resulted in additional scrutiny from Texas parents, educators and lawmakers, as well as interested parties across the country.
 
No school district in Texas is required to use CSCOPE. However, many have chosen the system to remain on track in meeting the state-mandated standards of TEKS. The program provides a timeline and framework for ensuring all standards are met in a consecutive, consistent manner throughout all participating school districts. The advantage to more districts utilizing CSCOPE is that when a student moves from one Texas district to another, there is less likelihood that the student will miss out on any important concepts in the classroom.
 
CSCOPE Fears Stem from Conservative Base
 
Although it seemingly launched as nothing more than a curriculum management system...
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SCHOOL CONTROVERSIES