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Protestors challenge polices using race to help determine where children go to school.

The issue of whether race can or should play a role in school admissions has long plagued school districts and the courts. As districts across the country struggle to achieve diversity in a legally permissible way, whether and to what extent race may be used remains a thorny issue. Educators searching for answers encounter a complicated body of law that often leads to more questions than answers.  

To protect children, we must give them the tools and knowledge to make good choices.

The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act added a provision to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requiring that schools that receive E-rate and other technology funds educate minors about appropriate online behavior. This includes showing students how to interact with other individuals on social networking Web sites and in chat rooms, and teaching them about cyberbullying awareness and response.

congress, sequestration

Update [7/23/12]: On July 23, the U.S. Department of Education released a memo to chief state school officers announcing that major K12 programs will not be subjected to the 8.4 percent across the board sequestration cuts in the middle of the 2012-2013 school year that was originally predicted.

Create CA arts

“Everyone likes the arts—people like the idea—but public support doesn’t equal political will,” says Craig Cheslog, principal advisor to Tom Torlakson, California’s superintendent of public instruction. For this reason, Cheslog, along with other California officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, and organizations such as the California Arts Council, have joined together to form Create CA, an initiative to make arts education a priority.

Daniela Pelaez, DREAM Act

Daniela Pelaez is the valedictorian of the north Miami (Fla.) Senior High School’s class of 2012. Pelaez, who was offered scholarships to numerous universities, ultimately chose to attend Dartmouth College in the fall. Although the world was seemingly at her fingertips, Pelaez faced deportation in March because she had been brought to the United States from Colombia illegally by her parents at the age of 4. After a series of student protests and pleas from educators and legislators, Pelaez was offered a two-year reprieve and will work on her case to get a visa while at Dartmouth.

La. Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards

Formerly, vouchers in the state of Louisiana only existed in New Orleans and for students with special needs in eligible districts. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s latest bill to expand the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program is set to change that. The bill, signed by Jindal on April 18, will allow low-and middle-income students attending Louisiana public schools graded “C,” “D,” or “F,” to receive state-funded vouchers to attend private schools.

Although Apple has hogged much of the e-book spotlight since its announcement in January that it would partner with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to roll out K12 e-Books in addition to its improved iBooks applications, it isn’t, nor ever will be, the only player in tablets in education. On the heels of Apple’s announcement, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski released in early March his plans to get all U.S. students, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, using electronic book titles by 2017—in five years.

In November 2011, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) polled its 600,000 members and found that 82 percent had faced skepticism around climate change education from their students, and 54 percent faced skepticism from parents. Most notably, NSTA reported that several of their respondents noted the political polarization of climate change education and the effect it has on their teaching. Climate change has been a divisive issue, particularly regarding its role in the classroom, for a number of years. In 2007, President Barack Obama—then Sen.

The nature of school security has changed dramatically over the last decade. Schools employ various measures, from metal detectors to identification badges to drug testing, to promote the safety and security of staff and students. One of the increasingly prevalent measures is the use of security cameras. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education reported that more than half of all public schools used security cameras during the 2007-2008 school year to monitor students, a 30 percent increase over eight years prior.

Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools is at a crossroads. The district has struggled for decades with poor academic achievement, dwindling enrollment and budget, and short-term superintendents—27 in the past 40 years. Most recently, after a two-year stint during which he helped the district get its financial house in order, closing nearly half of its schools and slashing staffing levels, Superintendent John Covington abruptly quit last August.

With the U.S. Department of Education receiving a minimal increase in allotted spending for 2012—$68.43 billion compared to 2011’s $68.35 billion—the House and Senate have begun debates as to how the money will be spent. The democrat-dominated Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill Sep. 21 that would provide stagnant funding for formula-based grants, including Title I, for the upcoming year.inside the law photo

The federal Department of Education has been a source of criticism on the GOP presidential campaign trail. In addition to overall shrinking of federal policies, many Republican candidates have expressed their desire to abolish the federal department and funnel more money—and control—back to the states and local schools. Sen. Michele Bachman, Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all listed the Department of Education as one federal agency they would like to take an ax to.

A recent move by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education will soon relieve many of the financial mysteries involved in the college search. Under the Higher Education Act of 2008, all higher education institutions are required to post a net-price calculator on their Web site by October 2011.

Amid all the national attention on Arizona these past few months, largely due to Senate Bill 1070 empowering police to take "reasonable" steps to verify the immigration status of criminal suspects, the state's K12 district administrators have been wrestling with a unique segregation issue, as well.

In late March, the Los Angeles Unified School District became the first of at least 32 K12 school districts nationwide to undergo federal compliance reviews intended to spotlight possible discrimination against specific groups of students that has resulted in persistent achievement gaps on standardized tests.

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, which has a mission to ensure equal access to education, according to its Web site, hopes to use these compliance reviews to provide technical assistance to help districts improve their performance.

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