Public School Policies

From unions to vouchers, school budgets to discipline policies, we cover some of the most controversial issues affecting public schools today. Learn more about education reform and how it impacts your family. Keep current on the latest controversies regarding religion, sex-education, civil rights and more.
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Published   November 09, 2017 |
An In-Depth Look at Common Core – What’s Working and What Isn’t?
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, more commonly referred to simply as “Common Core”, was introduced to help American students graduate from high school better prepared for career and college. But what exactly are these "common core" standards, and are they working?

If you attended a public school in the United States, you have probably taken a standardized test at some point – probably a lot of them. Testing is one of the most common ways to evaluate the efficacy of an education program, though it may not always be the best way. One of the most well-known education programs that makes heavy use of testing is the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, more commonly referred to simply as “Common Core”, was introduced in the early 2000s, though many people still have a poor understanding of what it is and how it has affected the nation’s school systems. This system has been in place for half a decade and yet the jury is still out on whether it works or not.

Whether you have detailed knowledge of what’s going on in the nation’s education system or not, you are probably aware that the most recent presidential election has led to some big changes. Keep reading to learn about the history of common core, it’s future, and whether or not it really works.

A History of Common Core

According to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Common Core State Standards Initiative is, “a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy,” also known as ELA. These standards exist to outline exactly what a student should know at the end of each grade in public educational systems. In a perfect world, these standards will

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Published   April 12, 2017 |
What are the Biggest Problems Facing the Public School System?
The American public school system is by no means perfect, but is it completely broken? Keep reading to learn about some of the top issues affecting the public school system.

The American public school system is far from perfect, but the list of top issues is constantly changing. Some say that the emphasis on standardized testing is destroying the quality of public education while others believe that schools are too crowded and parents are too uninvolved. The fact of the matter is that each public school system has its own problems depending where it is located, the local demographic, the amount of funding it receives, and myriad other factors. Keep reading to learn about some of the biggest problems currently facing public high schools in particular.

The Top 3 Issues Affecting Public High Schools

If you were to ask parents from one hundred different school districts about the problems they see with the public school system, you would probably get 100 different responses. Although there are many different problems with the American public school system, recent data collected from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows that the academic performance of American students is significantly lower than their international counterparts. School systems are evaluated on a wide variety of factors, but there are some issues that tend to fly under the radar which still have a significant impact. Here are the top three:

1. Students don’t spend enough time in school.

The requirement for number of school days varies slightly from one state to another. Currently, thirty of the U.S. states have a 180-day calendar – this requires students to be in school for approximately 49% of the year. Two states have

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Published   December 06, 2016 |
Are Service Dogs Too Distracting in a School Environment?
Students with disabilities may require the assistance of a service dog, but how might the presence of a dog in the classroom affect other students? Could it be too distracting?

There is a special bond between children and their dogs but, for some children, a dog is more than just a best friend – he is an assistant for everyday tasks. Children with certain diseases and disabilities sometimes need the help of a service dog just to get through their day. The service dog accompanies them everywhere they go – even to school. While a service dog may be a necessity for the student he serves, it is possible the he could become a distraction for other students. But where do you draw the line?

In today’s modern society, distractions are everywhere. Cell phones and tablets are being given to younger and younger children as society as a whole becomes progressively more reliant on technology. But what determines whether something is too distracting? When it comes to service dogs, there are some legitimate concerns regarding allergies and fears that some students may have, but are these concerns more legitimate than the student’s need for the service dog? Keep reading to learn more about this issue.

What Exactly Do Service Dogs Do?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the definition of service animal is, “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability”. Some of the tasks a service dog can perform might include pulling a wheelchair, picking up dropped items, reminding someone to take their medications, providing emotional

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Updated   July 22, 2016 |
Parents Refuse Common Core Testing
Parents nationwide are opting out of state testing. Hoping to send a message to lawmakers, they are refusing to allow their children to take standardized tests.
Parents Refuse Common Core Testing 

In communities all over the country, parents are choosing to opt their children out of Common Core testing. In schools from coast to coast, April has become “testing season,” the time of the year when students in grades K-12 sit for standardized tests in math and English language arts. Because of initiatives like No Child Let Behind and Race to the Top, which are intended to measure and improve student performance, some students sit for up to nine to twelve hours of testing over the course of a few weeks.  

Race to the Top

The Race to the Top program, which began in 2009, offers grants totaling billions of dollars to states that follow guidelines for education innovation. In order to qualify for the competitive grants, states must build “data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction.” To gather the data necessary to meet this requirement, states have implemented standardized testing for all public school children.

Why Opt-Out?

In 2014, some parents decided they’d had enough of high-stakes, long-duration testing. Around the country handfuls of students showed up on testing days clutching formally-worded notes from their parents explaining that they were “opting out” or refusing to take the standardized tests.

There are several reasons why parents are rejecting Common Core Testing:

  • Parents believe students suffer unnecessary stress due to hours of testing.
  • Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” which limits what students learn.
  • Testing companies collect student data, and
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Updated   March 29, 2015 |
Schools Demand Students' Social Media Passwords
Recent legislation that allows Illinois public schools to demand students’ social media passwords has renewed the debate about students’ right to privacy at school.
It is a story that is all too often in the news: A child is subjected to torturous cyberbullying by his or her peers via social media. Threatening messages sent on Facebook, humiliating comments about their appearance on Twitter, and other such nonsense drives the student to lash out, possibly hurting themselves, their peers, or both.
 
Schools no doubt serve a protective function and are charged with ensuring students have access to a free, appropriate education in an environment that is safe, secure, and nurturing. To help achieve that end, some states are taking strong measures to bolster the authority and power of school districts with regard to investigating instances of bullying, even if such negative behaviors do not occur on school property or within the bounds of the school day.
 
The Illinois Law
 
In an attempt to curb cyberbullying behaviors, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law, enacted January 1st of this year, that allows public school districts to demand access to students’ personal social media accounts if the student is suspected of violating school rules.
 
A letter sent home to parents in Triad Community Schools in Illinois, obtained by Motherboard, outlines the new policy:
“School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking site contains
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Recent Articles
November 09, 2017
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, more commonly referred to simply as “Common Core”, was introduced to help American students graduate from high school better prepared for career and college. But what exactly are these "common core" standards, and are they working?
November 07, 2017
In Indiana, a voucher program is up and running and changing the face of public education in the state.
October 25, 2017
Empower yourself and your children by learning what parents can do to protect their children from bullies and bullying behavior as they enter this new school year.
Public School Policies

Education Reform

Education reform is in the works, and you can stay updated on the latest changes, debates, and policies here. Learn more about No Child Left Behind and how it impacts your child. Explore how federal and state government is working to improve school performance, student achievement and education standards.

Teachers and Unions

A comprehensive look at teachers, tenure, and unions. Learn how unions impact school performance. Explore the impact of education reform on teaching qualification standards, traditional unions and controversial tenure rules.

Public School Budgets

We offer an overview of public school budgets; where the money comes from, how it’s spent and what schools are doing to get more funding. Learn how schools are cutting budgets and how the cuts will impact your child. Delve into some of the creative ways school districts are trying to raise money and where the extra money is spent.

Vouchers

Explore both sides of the school voucher debate. Learn what your options are, how those choices are funded and the impact on your local school district. From the latest government initiatives to results from recent studies, explore vouchers and the options they provide.

School Discipline Policies

Examine the various discipline methods being put to use in public schools. From detention to expulsion, spanking to handcuffing, school discipline can often be controversial. Does spanking work? Do police belong in schools? Learn more about what is being done to punish out of control students.

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.