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 May 24, 2018 |
Are Cell Phones and Public Schools Becoming a More Amicable Union?
Cell phone policies are changing at schools across the country, and some are even embracing the technology to enhance the learning experience or improve student safety.
Cell phones have traditionally been seen by school districts as distractions that interfere with the learning process. Most instituted bans against the use of cell phones during the school day. However, the advent of smart phones has led some districts to re-explore that decision, and some are now backing away from their bans. Are cell phones and public schools becoming a more amicable union, or are districts merely bowing to student pressure?
 
History of Cell Phone Bans in Schools
 
For more than a decade, cell phones and other technology devices have been banned in most public schools across the country. The bans were originally instituted to prevent classroom disruptions and distractions, according to the website for the School Safety and Security Services. As the technology has evolved, concerns have been raised over using the devices to cheat on exams. They have also been seen as a security concern, since phones can now discreetly take photographs of tests or students changing in the school locker room.
 
Over the years, the use of cell phones in schools has become a matter of debate for students, parents and teachers. Advanced technology has now made phones legitimate instructional tools, as students can now use their phones to access an unlimited amount of information from the Internet. Some have also argued that as cell phones become a more prevalent part of today’s culture, keeping phones out of the classroom prevents schools from moving with the times.
 
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Updated January 01, 2018 |
The Look of Public Schools Post-Newtown: More Armed Guards Greet Students
Students have headed back to school across the country, but are greeted by new security technology and armed security guards. We take a look at Post-Newtown public education.
As students head back to school this fall, things may look a little different in some locations. In the aftermath of the Newtown Elementary tragedy, many districts across the country are looking for ways to beef up security procedures to keep students and staff a little safer. In light of those efforts, students may be greeted by new security devices, safety measures and even armed guards at some schools.
 
Debates Over Best Security Options
 
The Courant reports that as schools weighed their options in new security procedures, debate over the best way to protect students and faculty ensued. Armed police guards are often the center of that debate, with some school officials in favor of the action and others opposed. Other issues that have been argued in recent months include arming school administrators and security personnel and allowing teachers to bring guns to school.
 
 
Carl Sferrazza, police chief for Enfield, Connecticut, is one who agrees armed guards are the best way to keep students safe. Sferrazza told the Courant, “These people are homicidal and suicidal individuals. Their intent and their planning is all geared toward killing as many people as they possibly can.”
 
However, others liken placing armed guards at the entrances of schools to creating a prison-like atmosphere for students. Nate Quesnel, the superintendent for East Hartford, told the Courant, “We don’t necessarily believe that having an armed guard in front of a school is the most productive way to make a
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Updated May 30, 2016 |
Testing Students for Alcohol Use: Violation of Constitutional Rights?
A private school in Illinois will begin randomly testing students for alcohol use this year, raising the issue of the constitutionality of drug and alcohol testing in schools once again.
A private high school in Illinois is raising the stakes on testing. However, the testing in question is not standardized examinations or even pop quizzes in the classroom. This school is adding testing for alcohol consumption to their current tests that randomly screen students for drug use.
 
Hair Test Detects Alcohol Consumption
 
The Huffington Post reports that St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, will unveil their random alcohol testing at the start of the new school year. The private Catholic high school has been testing students for drug use for a number of years, and now will use a similar test to check up on students’ alcohol consumption. The alcohol test is a new addition and the high school will be one of the first in the country to try out this new testing method.
 
“We’re adding this test because we care about our kids and we want them to be the best God created them to be,” St. Viator President Corey Brost was quoted as saying at the Huffington Post.
 
The new test will use hair samples, about the width of pencil lead, to reveal any alcohol use by the student. The test provides information about students who have had two to three drinks a week, over a period of the three months prior to the test. Hair samples have been used by the school in the past to test students for drug use, but this will be the first time the test is used to
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Updated October 14, 2016 |
While Students Enjoy Summer Break, Schools Grapple with Common Core Questions
While students are enjoying time off this summer, school district officials across the country are grappling with the issues associated with Common Core Standards, as well as plenty of opposition from parents and teachers.
As public school students get their fill of lazy, carefree summer days, their state school boards are grappling with new federal Common Core Standards slated to go into effect this year. States that were quick to grab onto the funding that was dangled with the standards are now realizing that implementation of those standards is meeting more than a little resistance. As students play outdoors with friends and enjoy long, leisurely bike rids, their local schools are embroiled in a battle, with no sign of a resolution in time for the fall semester.
 
Teacher Complaints Have North Carolina Rethinking Plans
 
North Carolina was one of the 45 states in the country to sign on for Common Core Standards, thanks to the $166 million state school districts received in Race to the Top funding. However, as the state tries to rewrite curriculum – and fast – to accommodate the new standards, education officials are realizing the process of switching over to the new requirements won’t be easy.
 
News Observer reports that the state department of education has received numerous complaints about new tests in a wide range of subjects. The tests were originally written to be used as means for evaluating teachers. Effective teacher evaluations were a key component to the state’s compliance with the new federal standards. However, a large number of teachers have complained to the state board that the questions on the tests do not match the curriculum they are teaching in the classroom.
 
Angela Quick, the deputy
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Updated October 23, 2017 |
Do Public Schools Need to Teach More Math and Science?
Some educators and community leaders are pushing for more math and science at the high school level. Is the move really necessary and if so, how do schools get students more interested in these STEM subjects?
Math and science are the backbone of the education system in the United States today, as STEM fields come to the forefront of the global marketplace. However, if one examines the test scores of U.S. students, it becomes clear that students in this country are not taking sufficient math and science to make the grade. As the U.S. continues to fall in math and science rankings on a global scale, many educators and business leaders are leading the charge for more rigorous math and science requirements in high schools. Will more math and science really make the U.S. more competitive?
 
U.S. Lagging Other Industrial Countries
 
Last year, William Bennett, the former U.S. Education Secretary, reported at CNN that the United States scored 23rd in math and 31st in science among the 65 top industrial countries in the world. The Wall Street Journal also issued a report, citing a warning in a report from the United States National Academies that stated the U.S. was losing ground in both math and science skills. Even as the U.S. has made some improvements in math and science test scores over the past decade, the country still lags behind many other countries across the globe in these key areas.
 
In addition to losing a global competitiveness, the U.S. may be cheating itself out of future math and science advancements. The CNN article also reported that only 26 percent of the high school seniors in this country score proficient or above on math examinations, and
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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.