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 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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Updated October 14, 2016 |
Public School Holiday Celebrations:  Christmas-centric or Multicultural?
As public schools in the United States continue to increase in their racial, ethnic, economic, and religious diversity, some districts need to rethink their holiday celebrations in a manner that is inclusive and respectful of all people.
With the children home for the holidays, with the spirit of love and peace in their hearts, how did their schools celebrate the season?  Or did they celebrate Christmas? 
In many locations, holiday parties involve decorating contests that include Christmas trees and ornaments. In elementary schools, Santa might make an appearance.  Songs of reindeer and gifts ring out, along with talk of who’s been naughty or nice. Children are asked to write essays on “what I want for Christmas,” or after the holidays, they are asked to explain what gifts they received.
 
However, this Christmas-centric view does not align well with the actual makeup of today’s public schools. Research shows that today’s public schools are more diverse than ever. While the data tends to speak from an ethnic or racial point of view, it is still indicative of the need to take multiple perspectives into account.  Schools have to begun to recognize that not all children celebrate Christmas and have made adjustments that make their celebrations more inclusive. However, there is still much work to be done if public schools are to have a truly multicultural perspective. 
 
Unintended Consequences
 
There remain many public schools in this country that engage in holiday celebrations that revolve around Christian ideas and principles as they pertain to Christmas. While these celebrations are no doubt intended to spread Christmas joy, there are negative consequences to these kinds of celebrations for children who do not belong to the Christian faith or who do not celebrate Christmas at
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Recent Articles
April 22, 2017
Police departments on public school campuses have played a major role in reducing violent crime and the speed limit. Unfortunately, they are also fighting an uphill battle against budget cuts.
April 22, 2017
Which states have the most diverse public schools? We analyze our data to find how much diversity truly exists on public school campuses. Learn about the varying levels of school diversity in regions around the nation, as well as the benefits derived from ethnic diversity in schools.
April 21, 2017
Children are reading less and less in this country, and the effects of that are showing in their performance in school. However, there are a variety of ways parents can encourage their children to read – and hopefully to love reading!
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.