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 16, 2016 |
 Is a Major Overhaul Coming to Texas High Schools?
Texas recently passed legislation decreasing the number of standardized tests for high school students, but how will this impact graduation standards?
Texas high school students may see fewer standardized tests in the future, thanks to new legislation that recently passed the state House and Senate. Known as House Bill 5, the bill reduces the number of standardized tests required for high school graduation from 15 to just five. While state lawmakers are patting themselves on the back for getting this legislation to the desk of Texas Governor Rick Perry, not everyone is happy about the changes coming to the Texas education system.
 
Texas at Forefront of Education Changes
 
Serving as the first in line for education reform is nothing new to Texas, according to a report at the Huffington Post. This state was one of the first to embrace No Child Left Behind and tougher standardized testing for all public school students. Now, all eyes are on the state once again, as lawmakers work to revamp graduation standards that would tone down the stringent standardized testing and accountability the state has supported for many years.
 
House Bill 5 encompasses education reform that drops the number of tests students must take for high school graduation. The five proposed tests that would be left in the standards would cover English reading and writing, Algebra I, U.S. history and biology. In addition, the new bill would allow students to pursue a base high school diploma that does not require the completion of Algebra II or other high level math and science courses.
 
ABC Local reports that the new diploma path would entail a
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Updated February 16, 2018 |
State-Mandated Recess May be Coming to New Jersey Schools
We look at current legislation New Jersey lawmakers are considering that would mandate recess time in all public schools. Do kids need outdoor playtime to learn better?
Recess has been a core component of the public education experience as long as most adults can remember. However, pressure from high-stakes testing and other concerns often make outdoor play time a casualty in the quest to improve academic performance. Some school districts have limited the amount of outdoor time students get in a school day, while a few have eliminated the practice altogether. Now, a New Jersey lawmaker is on a whole new quest – to guarantee public school students in her state get the outdoor time they need to succeed.
 
About S-1501
 
The new bill that has been introduced to the New Jersey state senate is S-1501, according to NJ Spotlight. The bill, authorized by State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) requires all public schools to provide at least 20 minutes of recess time daily to students in grades K-5. The measure recently passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee, and is now headed to the full Senate for consideration.
 
This bill is nothing new to Turner, who has been advocating for mandatory recess time in schools since 2009. Turner, who is also a college administrator, firmly believes that students perform better academically when they receive a “play break” during the school day. Nj.com reports that Turner has plenty of experts and research in her court, backing up the idea that daily breaks should be an integral part of the learning process.
 
Health Benefits of Recess
 
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends that children get at
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Updated May 30, 2016 |
Minnesota Lawmakers Push Anti-Bullying Bill Forward
Minnesota is looking at a new law that would require tougher public school policies to combat bullying. The bill has passed the state House and is now waiting for a vote by the Senate.
An anti-bullying bill in the throngs of state legislature in Minnesota recently passed a major hurdle. The Minnesota House approved the bill designed to strengthen schools’ responses to bullying, in a vote that mostly ran along party lines. While many applaud this step forward as a way to more effectively protect children from damaging behavior in school, others have voiced concern that state lawmakers are overstretching their reach to the public school system.
 
About the Bill
 
According to TwinCities.com, the new anti-bullying bill was introduced by House representative Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis). Davnie says that bill is necessary, because the current 37-word anti-bullying law for the state is inadequate in protecting bullied victims. Davnie asserts that if his bill is passed, it would take Minnesota from being one of the weakest states in the country on bullying to “instead, being a leader in building safe and supportive school climates for all students.”
 
One of the most important features of the bill, according to a report at Minnesota Public Radio, is the fact that it defines what bullying is. Davnie explains, “It established clear definitions of bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and intimidation, and then sets a high bar for school involvement.”
 
In the new bill, bullying is identified as any word or action that “disrupts a student’s education.” It also lists bullying based on student race, sexual identity, disability or social status. If the bill passes, school employees will be required to attend training that teaches them how to identify bullies
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Updated May 01, 2018 |
Segregated Proms: An Ongoing Controversy in Georgia
We examine recent efforts by students to overturn the longstanding tradition of segregated proms in many areas of the state, and why the effort still faces challenges today.
Prom is a rite of passage for many high school students; a chance to celebrate with friends before everyone heads in different directions after graduation. For students at some Georgia high schools, the evening celebrations were restricted according to the color of a student’s skin. Segregated proms have been going on in some areas of Georgia for decades since the schools backed out of sponsoring the events. In the hands of parents and students, proms have become an “invitation only” event, with black students hosting one party and white students hosting another.
 
Change is in the Air
 
This year, four students at Wilcox County High School decided it was time for a change. The female students, two white and two black, have decided it is time for their school to have an integrated prom. The students created an Integrated Prom Facebook page, where they wrote, “We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change. Well, as a group of adamant high school seniors, we want to make a difference in our community. For the first time in the history of our county, we plan to have an integrated prom.”
 
The four friends began their campaign when they decided they all wanted to be able to enjoy their senior prom together. One of the girls, Quanesha Wallace, had been elected homecoming queen for her school in the fall. However, she was unable to attend the white homecoming dance, since she is a black student. Instead, Wallace enjoyed
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Updated June 19, 2017 |
Do More Police in Schools Result in More Students in Court?
We look at recent reports that the additional police presence in schools across the country has also resulted in a higher number of students introduced to the court system.
The Newtown tragedy last December brought to light the vulnerability of public schools across the country. To answer concerns about student and staff safety, many have clamored for the addition of armed guards in every school nationwide. However, research suggests that placing armed police officers in schools may create more issues even as it is addressing the need for student safety. Police presence in schools may actually increase the number of students in the criminal justice system – often for minor crimes that could have been handled at the school level.
 
Not a New Idea
 
Despite the increased rhetoric surrounding police presence in school in recent months, the idea is not new. According to the New York Times, school districts have been using federal funding and other resources to bring police officers into schools since the 1990s. Known as “school resource officers,” these armed officers typically patrol high schools and middle schools, but some have been placed in elementary schools as well. Deseret News reports that the U.S. Department of Education recently found around 28 percent of all public schools report they have an armed security guard on school grounds during class hours at least once a week.
 
Hundreds of larger school districts, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston, have actually established their own police departments. These departments, boasting thousands of sworn officers and other staff members, are under the direct oversight of district officials. The Los Angeles School Police Department, which was established
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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.