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.
View the most popular articles in Public School Policies:
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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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CSCOPE: Innovative Curriculum or Threat to America’s Youth?
Amidst the growing controversy of CSCOPE curriculum, we explore both sides of the debate that is igniting in Texas and across the country.
Texas education has come under fire in recent months for introducing what has become the most controversial curriculum in the country to public school children. Known as CSCOPE, this “instructional material” has become the source of much debate in Texas and nationwide. Is CSCOPE, as some proponents assert, simply a way for state schools to ensure full instruction of the educational standards for Texas? Or is it something more sinister – propaganda to indoctrinate Texas youth in the ways of Muslimism, communism and terrorism? The answer to those questions may depend on which side of the political aisle you seek your answers.
 
What is CSCOPE?
 
According to the website, CSCOPE is “a comprehensive online curriculum management system.” It was developed by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC). TESCCC is comprised of all 20 education service centers in the state, which oversee a particular region of the state. The curriculum framework is designed to align with the standards for all academic areas in accordance with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
 
CSCOPE was first implemented into Texas classrooms during the 2006-2007 school year. At that time, there were 182 active districts using the CSCOPE system. As of last fall, 875 school districts are using CSCOPE in their classrooms. The extensive use of the system throughout the state has also resulted in additional scrutiny from Texas parents, educators and lawmakers, as well as interested parties across the country.
 
No school district in Texas is required to use CSCOPE. However, many
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Climate Change to Become Part of Core Curriculum in Public Schools
We report on a move to incorporate climate change into the core curriculum in public schools nationwide. What is the reasoning behind the move?
Climate change has never been a consistent part of school science curriculum. Some teachers have touched on the subject, but few have delved into the matter with the depth it requires for thorough understanding. Sometimes it is presented as a controversial theory, and at other times it is taught as irrefutable fact. Now, new national science standards are due out that could streamline the educational approach to the subject of climatic shift.
 
About the New Standards
 
The new science standards were created as a result of a partnership between the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Science Teachers Association. The non-profit group Achieve was also a part of the collaboration. Standards introduce the concept of climate change at a much younger grade, and continue to expand on the subject throughout middle and high school. Mark McCaffrey, programs and policy director for the National Science Foundation, called the new standards “revolutionary.”
 
 
Until now, the only effort to establish national science standards was in 1996, when the National Science Education Standards were published by the National Research Council. However, few states did much to bring those standards into the classroom. In 2010, a new effort was launched to produce standards in science, and the National Research Council recruited the other entities to provide a collaborative approach to their creation. The new standards now present more comprehensive information about climate change that gives students a full
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New California Law Addresses Issue of School Fees Once Again
A new law recently went into effect in California that prohibits schools from charging exorbitant fees for various incidentals in schools like uniforms and field trips. It also provides a path for parents who believe school fees are unfair and in violation of state regulations.
The right to a free public education has been hotly contested in California public schools in recent years. The addition of multiple fees for classroom and extracurricular activities has created a serious financial quandary for many families in the state. As a result, state lawmakers have passed a new law that addresses the issues of high fees, which include guidelines on the fees that can be required and how to help low-income families participate. Unfortunately, the law so full of good intentions has created a whole new set of problems for parents, students and school staff.
 
The Problem with School Fees
 
Issues with school fees have been reported by parents and students in the California school system for some time. An investigation by the ACLU in 2010 revealed that many schools were requiring students to purchase workbooks, textbooks and other essentials in school districts across the state. Investigators also discovered that students who were unable to pay were sometimes singled out from the rest of their classmates, according to a report at the Los Angeles Times.
 
In some of those cases, students were told to shell out hundreds of dollars for graphing calculators, athletic uniforms – even uniforms required for physical education classes at the school. Although many of these fees had previously been ruled illegal in litigation, schools were continuing to assess them. They were presenting a particular hardship for low-income students, who either had to go without important supplies or activities, or come forward as a person
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Is Prayer Coming Back to Public Schools?
We report on new legislation in Mississippi that allows students to pray publicly in their schools across the state. Now, schools must develop policies to allow for prayer – but the new law is loaded with controversy.
Prayer appears to be on its way back to public schools after a hiatus due to a 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibiting student-led prayers over public address systems at school events. Thanks to a new law in Mississippi, schools will need to adopt policy that allows for student-led prayer in a variety of venues. While the law has been applauded by many, it has also received plenty of opposition, as well as hints at a future lawsuit.
 
Governor Puts Signature on School Prayer Law
 
The New York Times reports that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed a new law that allows students in Mississippi schools to pray at school events, over school intercoms and before school athletic contests. All prayers issued by students must be accompanied by a disclaimer, stating the prayer is not endorsed by the school district. Governor Bryant explains that the purpose of the new law is to protect religious freedom in public schools in his state – not to establish or sanction religion in schools.
 
The Republican Governor was joined by supporters, including lawmakers and ministers, when he signed the bill into law. One of the ministers in attendance, Rev. David E. Tipton, Jr., was quoted in the Mississippi Business Journal as saying, “We have listened to the argument of the separation of church and state too long, and those barriers, I believe, is a façade with a certain agenda that has actually, I think, brought our nation to the peril that
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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.