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.
View the most popular articles in School Controversies:
Updated March 03, 2015 |
New Federal Guidelines Open School Doors to Immigrant Children
The Obama Administration recently warned states that refusing enrollment to students based on citizenship or immigration status violates federal law.
Immigration reform has been a hotly contested issue for decades. With Congress deadlocked on the issue, state legislatures across the country have passed strict anti-immigration bills, leaving millions of immigrants in fear of deportation. One source of fear for undocumented families is that local school districts that require birth certificates, social security numbers, and other vital information in order to enroll students will reveal the family’s undocumented status and lead authorities to apprehend them. The fear of legal retribution is so great that for many families, removing their children from school is their only choice.
 
Plyler v. Doe
 
The recent wave of state-based restrictions on enrollment of undocumented students is somewhat curious given that the Supreme Court ruled that these students have an equal right to education. In their 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, the justices held that schools cannot:
 
       ·      Deny a student enrollment based on undocumented status;
 
       ·      Require different procedures to determine a student’s residency;
 
       ·      Engage in any activities that may discourage a student from enrolling;
 
       ·      Require students or their parents to document their immigration status;
 
       ·      Ask questions that may expose a student’s immigration status;
 
       ·      Require a student’s social security number for enrollment purposes.
 
Furthermore, as a result of the ruling, school officials involved in enrollment and intake of new students are not obligated to enforce U.S. immigration laws. Yet, despite these clear-cut guidelines regarding student enrollment, public schools keep finding ways to exclude immigrant and undocumented children.
 
Alabama – The “Show Me Your Papers State”
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Updated March 03, 2015 |
Nation’s Public School Personnel Embroiled in Cheating Scandals
In today’s climate of high-stakes testing, some teachers and administrators are cheating the system by providing test answers to students, changing student answers, and reviewing test questions before state tests are administered in order to feign the appearance of student success.
As the pressure to demonstrate student achievement has increased over the last decade, some educators have begun bending the rules. While cheating scandals involving teachers are nothing new, with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002, the stakes for teachers and students alike rose dramatically.
 
NCLB’s strict testing and performance requirements have gotten the most attention over the years. Students in elementary and middle grades are required to be tested annually in math and reading. High school students must be tested at least once between tenth and twelfth grade. Schools must also demonstrate “adequate yearly progress,” in which students show year-to-year improvement towards the eventual goal that 100 percent of students are proficient on tests in both subject areas.
 
Originally, districts had until 2014 to meet 100 percent proficiency. But by 2011 it became clear that thousands of schools across the country would not meet this goal. As a result, the Obama Administration agreed to award waivers to districts that could not reach the goal, however, districts had to agree to implement teacher evaluation systems that were directly tied to student test scores if waivers were to be granted. Thus, cheating scandals involving educators have since become much more commonplace.
 
Cheating Cases Reported Across the Nation
 
Educators in Philadelphia have been charged with “fostering a culture of cheating” after the state’s attorney general discovered in 2008 that teachers had provided test answers to students, improperly reviewed state assessments, and in some cases changed student answers.
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Published April 15, 2013 |
Climate Change to Become Part of Core Curriculum in Public Schools
We report on a move to incorporate climate change into the core curriculum in public schools nationwide. What is the reasoning behind the move?
Climate change has never been a consistent part of school science curriculum. Some teachers have touched on the subject, but few have delved into the matter with the depth it requires for thorough understanding. Sometimes it is presented as a controversial theory, and at other times it is taught as irrefutable fact. Now, new national science standards are due out that could streamline the educational approach to the subject of climatic shift.
 
About the New Standards
 
The new science standards were created as a result of a partnership between the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Science Teachers Association. The non-profit group Achieve was also a part of the collaboration. Standards introduce the concept of climate change at a much younger grade, and continue to expand on the subject throughout middle and high school. Mark McCaffrey, programs and policy director for the National Science Foundation, called the new standards “revolutionary.”
 
Until now, the only effort to establish national science standards was in 1996, when the National Science Education Standards were published by the National Research Council. However, few states did much to bring those standards into the classroom. In 2010, a new effort was launched to produce standards in science, and the National Research Council recruited the other entities to provide a collaborative approach to their creation. The new standards now present more comprehensive information about climate change that gives students a full picture of how it is
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Published January 06, 2013 |
Is Shakespeare Getting the Boot from Public Schools?
We analyze how the new Common Core Standards will impact the teaching of fiction and classic literature in classrooms nationwide. Are Shakespeare's days numbered?
As Common Core Standards take their place in public schools across the country, some are left wondering how these new standards will impact the education students have received in the past. Of particular concern is the shift the Common Core Standards seems to promote from the reading of classic fiction to nonfiction within the classroom. The worries over how the standards will change the standard English class have accelerated and snowballed into some wringing their hands over the disappearance of Shakespeare and other classic literary writers from the classroom. However, proponents of the new national education standards are adding their two cents to the discussion, saying the worries are unfounded and simply untrue in some cases.

What are the Common Core Standards?
 
The Common Core Standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, as an effort to find a viable alternative to the failed policies of No Child Left Behind. The first draft of the standards was released in 2009, according to the website for the ASCD. According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the purpose of the Common Core Standards was to raise the bar on the education standards across the country, in order to prepare students for the rigors of higher education or the workforce after graduation.
 
The standards were created with input from hundreds of educators nationwide. While the standards were developed on the federal level, they leave states to determine how to best meet the standards
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Published December 23, 2012 |
Teacher in Hot Water after Playing Macklemore’s Pro-Gay Rights Rap Song in Class
After playing rapper Macklemore's "Same Love" pro-gay rights rap song in class, a Michigan teacher was suspended with no pay. We explore the controversy.
A controversy in a Michigan middle school has been resolved, but questions still remain over why a performing arts teacher was severely disciplined after allowing a student to play a marriage equality song in her classroom. The teacher, Susan Johnson, from Centennial Middle School, allowed the song after checking with the student to be sure it fit within the guidelines of the school district. However, the song offended at least one classmate, whose complaint eventually led to the teacher’s disciplinary action. Was the teacher merely defending a student’s freedom of speech, or was she in violation of district policy? The answer to that question appears to depend on who you ask.

“Same Love” Subject of Controversy
 
According to CBS Detroit, Johnson allowed a student in one of her eighth-grade performing arts classes to play the song “Same Love” by rapper Macklemore during class. Prior to granting permission, Johnson asked the student if the song contained any inappropriate language or references to violence. The student responded that it did not. In fact, “Same Love” is a song about marriage equality, depicting the life of a gay man from beginning to end. Some of the lyrics in the song include:
 
“Can’t change, even if I tried…”
 
“No freedom ‘til we’re equal…”
 
“We become so numb to what we’re saying…”
 
“If I was gay, I would think hip hop hates me…”

In addition to the pro-gay message, the song also includes lyrics regarding the church and religion, including:
 
“If you preach hate at the service those
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