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 |
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 June 12, 2017 |
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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Updated October 23, 2017 |
Chicago Schools Open on Time, Impending Strike Still Threatens
Although Chicago public schools opened for the start of the 2012 - 2013 school year, a possible teacher's strike may grind the entire district to a halt just a week later. Stay abreast of the negotiations and the backup plans the district has made to keep schools open, even without teachers on campus.
Despite heated negotiations that have taken up most of the summer months, Chicago schools did open on time with a full day of school.  The teacher’s union failed to file a10-day intent-to-strike by the deadline that would initiate a strike prior to the first school day. However, the sigh of relief breathed by parents, politicians and members of the school board did not last long. The intent-to-strike was filed a few days later, which puts a walk-out day for teachers at September 10 if a compromise is not found shortly.  If CPS teachers pick up the pickets, kids in Chicago schools will get only about a week of education before the entire system grinds to a halt.

Points of Contention

The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have met a total of 46 times in an effort to find a compromise both sides could swallow. A fact finder was also brought in over the summer to find a solution to the conflict. The fact finder told the Chicago Sun-Times that the relationship between the two sides was “toxic.” Some of the points of contention that have not been resolved include:

Teacher Recall: The Chicago Tribune reports that the union wants CPS to hire from a pool of teachers who have been laid off by the district, rather than allowing principals to hire any applicant they choose. However, CPS says that policy may restrict principals from hiring the best applicant for the job, if the best applicant happens to come
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Updated December 02, 2017 |
Prestigious High School in Virginia Faces Civil Rights Lawsuit
A recent lawsuit filed by the NAACP against Thomas Jefferson High School alleges the school discriminates against minority students that are not properly identified as “gifted” racially by the Fairfax school district.
A question over equality at a top-rated high school in the Fairfax School District in Virginia has once again raised the question of the equality of public education overall in the United States. Thomas Jefferson High School, frequently ranked as one of the top public schools in the country, has recently come under fire by the Coalition of the Silence and the NAACP. The organizations have raised concerns about the low enrollment of minority students into the school, particularly in light of the much higher rate of diversity in schools just a few miles away. However, as one digs into the question of racial inequality at Thomas Jefferson High School, concerns extend into whether minority students in Fairfax County are given the same academic opportunities as their caucasian counterparts.
Federal Civil Rights Complaint Filed
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education regarding Thomas Jefferson High School’s admission policies. The complaint alleges that Fairfax County “…essentially operates a network of separate and unequal schools,” which leaves out Latinos, blacks and disabled students. The complaint further alleges that “for decades, these students have been grossly and disproportionately underrepresented in admission to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.”
The civil rights complaint was filed by the Coalition of Silence, an advocacy group formed by a former school board member of Fairfax County Public Schools. The Fairfax chapter of the NAACP is also listed on the complaint. The complaint specifically asserts
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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.


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.