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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Should Schools Perform Drug Tests on Students?
A new drug testing policy at a high school in Kansas City raises the question of whether public schools should have the right to test students for drugs.
Drug testing has become a common procedure in some areas of society, from teachers and athletes to professionals in a wide range of industries. More recently, the question of drug testing for students has been raised, as some schools have begun to institute random drug testing in high schools and even middle schools. Is drug testing an effective way to keep students “clean” or is it a blatant violation of students’ privacy rights? The answer to that question may depend on who you ask.

An Overview of Drug Testing

Drug testing can be done through a variety of methods, using samples that include urine or a few strands of hair. Common drugs tested for include marijuana, cocaine, steroids, opiates and amphetamines. Alcohol is not a substance that can be detected using standard drug testing procedures, since the substance does not stay in the body long enough to show up in test results. Current use of alcohol can be tested by breathalyzers and other testing methods.

Drug testing can be performed as a standard procedure, such as prior to hiring an applicant for a job.  Some schools drug test teachers and have found positive results.  Testing can also be done on an individual if substance use is suspected, due to suspicious behavior or actions of the individual. Another option is random testing, which can be done on any individual at any time, without warning. It is the random testing approach that has typically come under fire in public schools today.
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Is Student-Based Funding Coming to Georgia Schools?
Georgia is considering a shift in funding and governance of local schools to ensure money gets to the schools and students that need it most. Could this innovative approach become a model for the rest of the country?
As schools look at a variety of options to improve school and student performance, one variable consistently comes to the forefront – money. While many educators assert that bigger budgets could solve many of the problems in education today, politicians at all levels agree more money is probably not in the foreseeable future of most schools districts across the country. In place of more funding, some areas are now looking to different ways to allocate the money that is currently available. Student-based funding is the new buzzword for school districts interested in getting the money to the schools and students who need it most. Now, Georgia is joining the student-based funding bandwagon.

What is Student-Based Funding?

Student-based funding is a method of allotting funding to school districts, and even individual schools, based on the needs of individual students. This contrasts to traditional school funding that is determined by educational programs, creating an average amount spent on every student within a given district. Proponents of student-based funding argue that traditional funding results in disparities throughout the educational system, as schools with high-need students are left wanting for resources. Student-based funding aims to reduce those disparities, without the need for additional money for which educators regularly champion.

According to the website for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, student-based funding begins by assigning specific weights to each type of students. The weights are measured by the cost of educating that student, whether a student with special needs, gifted student or
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Is Shakespeare Getting the Boot from Public Schools?
We analyze how the new Common Core Standards will impact the teaching of fiction and classic literature in classrooms nationwide. Are Shakespeare's days numbered?
As Common Core Standards take their place in public schools across the country, some are left wondering how these new standards will impact the education students have received in the past. Of particular concern is the shift the Common Core Standards seems to promote from the reading of classic fiction to nonfiction within the classroom. The worries over how the standards will change the standard English class have accelerated and snowballed into some wringing their hands over the disappearance of Shakespeare and other classic literary writers from the classroom. However, proponents of the new national education standards are adding their two cents to the discussion, saying the worries are unfounded and simply untrue in some cases.
What are the Common Core Standards?
The Common Core Standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, as an effort to find a viable alternative to the failed policies of No Child Left Behind. The first draft of the standards was released in 2009, according to the website for the ASCD. According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the purpose of the Common Core Standards was to raise the bar on the education standards across the country, in order to prepare students for the rigors of higher education or the workforce after graduation.
The standards were created with input from hundreds of educators nationwide. While the standards were developed on the federal level, they leave states to determine how to best meet the standards within
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Teacher in Hot Water after Playing Macklemore’s Pro-Gay Rights Rap Song in Class
After playing rapper Macklemore's "Same Love" pro-gay rights rap song in class, a Michigan teacher was suspended with no pay. We explore the controversy.
A controversy in a Michigan middle school has been resolved, but questions still remain over why a performing arts teacher was severely disciplined after allowing a student to play a marriage equality song in her classroom. The teacher, Susan Johnson, from Centennial Middle School, allowed the song after checking with the student to be sure it fit within the guidelines of the school district. However, the song offended at least one classmate, whose complaint eventually led to the teacher’s disciplinary action. Was the teacher merely defending a student’s freedom of speech, or was she in violation of district policy? The answer to that question appears to depend on who you ask.
“Same Love” Subject of Controversy
According to CBS Detroit, Johnson allowed a student in one of her eighth-grade performing arts classes to play the song “Same Love” by rapper Macklemore during class. Prior to granting permission, Johnson asked the student if the song contained any inappropriate language or references to violence. The student responded that it did not. In fact, “Same Love” is a song about marriage equality, depicting the life of a gay man from beginning to end. Some of the lyrics in the song include:
“Can’t change, even if I tried…”
“No freedom ‘til we’re equal…”
“We become so numb to what we’re saying…”
“If I was gay, I would think hip hop hates me…”
In addition to the pro-gay message, the song also includes lyrics regarding the church and religion, including:
“If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t
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NAACP Pushing for Broad Reform in Public Education to Promote Quality, Equality
We’ll report on a new report published by the NAACP that focuses on four areas of education that must be reformed if the U.S. is to maintain their high level of education nationwide.
As more interested parties weigh in on ways to raise the bar on the standard of public education in the United States, a notable equal-rights organization has now found their voice. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has recently issued a report that focuses on four primary areas of improvement that should be addressed by the public education system today. The recommendations focus primarily on what it will take for the students of today to succeed in the global marketplace of the 21st century.

About “Finding Our Way Back to First”

The NAACP report, titled, “Finding Our Way Back to First: Reclaiming World Leadership by Educating All America’s Children,” identifies some of the solutions necessary for providing high quality education to all children in the United States. The report was drafted in response to concerns that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge in the education spectrum on a global scale.

“If America is going to lead the world in this century the way we did the last, we must lead the world again in education,” the website for the NAACP states.
The Miami Herald lists four basic areas of focus outlined in the NAACP report, including:
  • Improving kindergarten preparedness through effective preschool programs
  • Improving teacher training for more effective classroom instruction
  • Longer school days that allow for more instructional time in the classroom
  • More efficient targeting of funding, to provide for the neediest students
The president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, explained to the Miami Herald that by making
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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.