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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Updated June 12, 2017 |
Yoga in Schools: Good Fitness or Religious Indoctrination?
We delve into the recent controversy over teaching of Yoga in public schools. While some see it as a healthy way for children to gain strength and flexibility, some parents are viewing it a religious indoctrination.
A new trend appears to be sweeping some public school districts, despite the alarm by a handful of parents. Yoga has recently been introduced into a number of school systems across the country, allowing students the opportunity to stretch, breathe and focus their bodies and minds during a busy school day. While many tout the new program as a healthy way for students of all ages to gain additional fitness benefits, some are concerned that the religion attached to the movements violates the separation of church and state in public schools.
 

Introducing Yoga to California Students

One school district that has fully embraced the health benefits of yoga in public schools is Encinitas Union School District in North San Diego County, California. The North County Times reports that the yoga program has been going strong in some district schools over the past three years. This year, thanks to a $533,000 grant from the K.P. Jois USA Foundation, the program has now been expanded throughout the district.

Approximately half the schools in Encinitas now provide yoga instruction for 30 to 40 minutes at a time, twice a week, the publication reports. Yoga joins other enrichment programs offered in the district, including music, reading and gardening. The additional classes serve a dual purpose by providing students with instruction in new subjects while freeing up teacher time for planning and other duties.
 
The schools, which claim to have removed all religious references from their yoga program, assert that the yoga
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Updated June 12, 2017 |
What are Common Core Standards and Why Do We Need Them?
With schools nationwide adopting common core standards, we’ll take a look at what they are, their benefits, and how they will change the face of public education.
In the efforts to ramp up the public education system in the United States, new national standards have been proposed to be the next logical step. In the past, standards were left up to individual states, which created huge variances in what and how children were taught. It also created disparities when it came to preparing students for higher education. Something had to be done, educators and lawmakers decided. Hence, common core standards were born.
 

What are Common Core Standards?

Common core standards were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Standards were developed with input from educators and administrators from around the country. The standards focus on English Language Arts and Mathematics, but standards span across other core subjects taught in public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. There are even common core standards now in place for pre-kindergarten instruction to ensure every student is fully prepared to enter public school.

According to the website for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the standards are designed to provide students with the appropriate knowledge and skills throughout their K-12 education. Key features of the core standards initiative include:
  • Easy to understand and consistent
  • Build on current standards for individual states
  • Are competitive with standards in other top-performing countries
  • Line up with current expectations for college and the workforce
  • Include rigorous content and knowledge application
  • Are evidence-based for easy assessment
U.S. News and World Report states that these common core standards for language arts and
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Updated June 12, 2017 |
The Ongoing Debate Over School Vouchers
We cover the recent voucher drama in Indiana, where ad campaigns are being launched to persuade students to stay in public schools. However, the real question is how well are vouchers truly serving students?
School vouchers are a source of debate between public and private schools nationwide, but nowhere is the debate more acutely felt than in the state of Indiana.  Indiana is home to one of the largest voucher programs in the country, and many are waiting to see whether this program delivers on all of its promises. Vouchers are also a major point of contention in places like Wisconsin and Louisiana, where schools are fighting for students and parents are waiting to see if the benefits of school choice will come to fruition. Do vouchers really improve the quality of education for all students? With inconclusive test results, the jury appears to still be out. However, that doesn’t change the intensity with which both sides are fighting for the type of education system they believe is best.
 

Competition Heats Up in Indiana

The Indiana voucher system is getting bigger this year, and public schools across the state are feeling the heat. Fox News reports that the new voucher system first passed the Indiana legislature in 2011, and the hundreds of students that left public schools for private pastures last year could turn into thousands of students this year. Public schools are turning to advertising, as well as door-to-door campaigning, to keep kids in their neighborhood schools – and funding in the public school system.

Currently, more than 8,000 students in Indiana have applied for the voucher program for the upcoming school year. There is room for as many as 15,000
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Updated June 12, 2017 |
In the Aftermath of the Chicago Teachers Strike: What Happens Next?
The picketing signs have been put away in Chicago, and the teachers strike has ended, but the ramifications will long reverberate in the district. We analyze the ending agreement and how students, parents, teachers, and administrators will pick up the pieces left in the wake of the strike.
Photo Credit: Chicago Teachers Union via Flickr
After a seven-day strike hit the public school system in the city of Chicago, things appear to be mostly business as usual once again. Students are back in school. Teachers are back in their classrooms. Both the teachers union and the mayor’s office are declaring at least a partial victory in sticking to their guns and hammering out a compromise both sides can tolerate. While the Chicago teachers strike is over by all visible signs, remnants of this latest labor move may have ramifications nationwide that last for some time to come.
 

Throughout the summer, negotiations continued between the Chicago Teachers Union and school administrators and the mayor’s office. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was pushing for longer school days, hiring autonomy for principals and a revamping of the teacher evaluation process. Teachers were looking for better pay increases, job security, smaller classroom sizes and more services for their students. As the summer negotiations wore on, some were hopeful a strike wouldn’t have to happen. Others voiced fears that a strike was exactly where the teachers union was headed.

Two Points of Contention

 When union delegates finally voted to strike right after the start of the new school year, two key issues remained in the balance. The first was autonomy for principals in the hiring process. Mayor Emanuel wanted principals to hire any applicant they chose when openings came available. The teachers union wanted hiring to be done strictly from the pool of displaced Chicago teachers to ensure
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Updated April 06, 2018 |
First Strike in 25 Years to Hit CPS
Negotiations have been halted, and the Chicago Teachers Union will began their strike September 10, marking the first teachers' strike in Chicago in 25 years. The children are sadly caught in the crossfire between CPS and the Union, and how will this strike impact the education of Chicago school students?
Photo Credit: Chicago Teachers Union
After a summer of intense negotiations, the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have failed to reach an agreement, resulting in the first strike to hit the city in 25 years. This week, students who had just started into new classrooms for the school year have found themselves with nowhere to go – and parents are scrambling to find safe options for their children during the school day. With one day of the strike already gone, it appears teachers will be on the picket lines for at least another day, as school administrators, union representatives and Mayor Rahm Emanuel continue to try to work toward a compromise everyone can accept.
 

The Anatomy of a Teachers’ Strike

The two sides of this conflict have been working for months to try to find a resolution. A fact-finder brought in over the summer in an effort at mediation called the relationship between the two “toxic.” At the crux of the controversy is a wide range of issues, from classroom sizes to school hiring policies. While some of these issues have reached an agreement, many more still appear to be miles away from any sort of compromise.

At the center of the controversy is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Before Emanuel even took office, he ran on the campaign platform of reforming Chicago’s troubled school system. According to the Huffington Post, Emanuel worked quickly after moving into the Mayor’s office to allow principals autonomy in the hiring process, create stricter teacher evaluations
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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.