public schools

Supreme Court Rules Kansas Public Schools are Underfunded

Crowded classrooms, higher fees, fewer after-school programs and staff – if you’re thinking that all sounds like a scholastic nightmare, you’re close. It’s the reality of education in Kansas.

classroom

The Kansas government made the decision to cut certain funding to schools as a way to help get the state through the “Great Recession.” The cuts made led to a lawsuit being filed in 2010 on behalf of parents and school districts who felt the state had harmed students, especially those in poorer districts. The case has now been ruled on by the Kansas Supreme Court, and they have found the current funding levels in Kansas public schools to be unconstitutional.

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Public Schools Receive an “F” Among Parents and Community

An August Gallup poll reveals that more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with the public education system, with only 7 percent of parents of school-aged children believing that public schools provide an excellent education. Home schooling rated higher by the general public than public schools for quality, but private schools received the overall best ratings.

The poll reported that 78 percent of Americans said children in private schools received an excellent or good education. Parochial schools came next with a 69 percent rating, then came charter schools (60 percent), home schooling (46 percent) and public schools (37 percent).

Although 83 percent of parents polled said their oldest child attends public school, only 47 percent thought their child was receiving an excellent or good education. Among parents of K-12 students, the results were similar to the public at large, but they gave public schools a slightly higher rating than home schooling. Read the rest of this entry »



Black Students Are the Most Likely to Be Suspended or Expelled

According to the Department of Education, black male students who attend public schools are more likely to receive harsh punishments at school than other students.

The Department of Education released data that shows that black students make up 35 percent of the students who have been suspended once, 46 percent of the students who have been suspended more than one time, and 39 percent of students who have been expelled. Interesting enough, the black students were only 19 percent of the total population at the schools that were sampled in the 2009-2010 school year. The surveys also show that black students are 3.5 times more likely to face suspension or expulsion than white students. Black boys were twice as likely as black girls girls to receive an out-of-school suspension as a punishment.

“Education is the civil rights of our generation,” said Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education. “The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.”

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Should Home-Schooled Students Be Allowed to Play Sports at Public Schools?

two boys playing soccerPatrick Foss is a typical high school student. He plays soccer, has friends, and hopes to attend the University of Virginia after he graduates from high school. However, there is one difference between Foss and his neighbor, another young athlete who plays for his high school’s basketball team: Foss can’t play for a high school team because he is home-schooled.

“My parents pay the same exact taxes as my next-door neighbor who plays varsity sports,” Foss said. “I just want to be part of the community. You shouldn’t have to pick between athletics and academics.”

Foss says he would like to try out for the kicker position on Freedom High School’s football team. Sadly for Foss, that has not been an option in the past. However, a new bill is sitting before the House of Delegates in Virginia’s General Assembly that could change this fact. If it passes, this bill would be a victory for home-schooling advocates who want to allow their students more access to extracurricular activities at local public schools.

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Verizon Wireless Awards Kansas Department of Education a $30,000 Grant

moblie communications companyIf students in Kansas are about to sign up with a cell phone provider, they should probably consider signing on with Verizon Wireless. This isn’t based on the cost of quality of cell phone service that the provider offers in the state, but instead it based on a somewhat strange factor. What is this factor? The fact that the cell phone company recently announced plans to donate $30,000 to the Kansas Department of Education in a grant.

The grant will be given to the state in order to help fund the training of teachers on the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards were adopted by the state of Kansas in October 2010 and the funds will be used in the implementation of the plan.

“Verizon Wireless is proud to support the Kansas Department of Education and its undertaking to implement the Common Core Standards in classrooms across the state,” said Brendan Fallis, the Verizon Wireless president of the Kansas/Missouri region. “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

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An Entire School District in Montana Exists for Only One Student

student and teacher enter a school houseSome people think that smaller class sizes are the answer to improving the quality of education that students in America receive. However, I doubt that anybody would really want to have a class – or even more shocking, an entire school district – that only has one student enrolled for the school year. Yet, for Amber Leetch, a sixth grader in Greenough, Montana, this strange scenario is just her daily life.

Amber is the only student in the entire Sunset School District 30. The school district is in a prosperous ranching corner of Montana and the district consists of a one-room school house, one student, and one teacher.

“The hardest part is getting through the day without feeling too lonely,” Amber said about her unusual learning environment.

Earlier this year, there was one other student enrolled in the school district; however, the first-grader only attended classes for a few weeks. Now, the long school-days are shared by only Amber, her teacher, Toni Hatten, and the new school dog, Baylee.

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NYC Teachers are Paid to Migrate from School to School

new york city department of educationCan you imagine waking up every Monday morning and reporting to a different building each week to do your job? Your job might even change on a weekly basis: one week you could be working in the sciences and the next you might be filling out paperwork. However, you would still be considered a full-time employee for the DOE’s ATR and you would still receive your full salary. It sounds like the life of a super-secret-agent to me, but for the teachers who work for the Department of Education’s Absent Teacher Reserve, it is just another day at the job.

Each week, hundreds of teachers in New York City go through this routine. As a mentioned before, these nomadic teachers receive their full salaries not to teach their normal jobs, but to work as substitutes at different schools throughout the New York Public School District. Many of these teachers were “excessed” due to budget cuts, but some have escaped from the “rubber rooms,” where teachers are sent as punishment for “excessive lateness or absence, sexual misconduct with a [minor], physical abuse, incompetence or use of drugs or alcohol.”

Up until October 2011, ATR teachers would remain at one school for the entire school term. If they did a good enough job, the principal could decide to hire them. But now, the teachers move from school to school on a weekly basis because the United Federation of Teachers signed a deal with the DOE to make the change. The United Federation of Teachers claims that teachers will have a better chance of finding a job by changing schools each week because they will be meeting more new potential bosses.

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Number of Students Who Qualify for Subsidized Meal Programs Is Rising

lunch tray with cafeteria foodsRecently, there has been a surge in the number of American schoolchildren who have made a national list. Sadly, it’s not an academic accomplishment nor an athletic accomplishment. Instead, these 21 million schoolchildren have all qualified for free or low-cost school meals. A few years ago, many of these children came from families who were considered to be middle class, but now, due to the national economic crisis, they are on longer in this socio-economic range after their parents lost their jobs or homes.

Since the 2006-2007 school year, there has been a 17 percent increase in the number of students who qualify for free or low-cost meals. Eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, and Tennessee, have seen increases of 25 percent or more in the past four-years.

“These are very large increases and a direct reflection of the hardships American families are facing,” said Benjamin Senauer, an economists at the University of Minnesota. He also said that this new surge has come about so quickly “that people like myself who do research are struggling to keep up with it.”

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The Supreme Court Bans Worship in NYC Public School Buildings

hands in prayer and bibleFor the past 17 years, the Bronx Household of Faith has been pressing its case for allowing religious worship services to be held at public schools. On December 5, 2011, the Supreme Court rejected the small church’s plea yet again. In its ruling, the Supreme Court also left in place a ruling with allows public schools to offer prayer and religious instruction but bans worship services.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Pastor Robert Hall. “We think this is a dangerous precedent that allows the state to make a distinction between various types of religious activity.”

For the past several years, many religious groups in New York have been conducting their worship services in public buildings, including Public School 15, where the Bronx Household of Faith has been worshiping since 2002. However, according to the new action passed by the Supreme Court, this will not be allowed after February 12, 2012.

“We view this as a victory for the city’s schoolchildren and their families,” said Jane Gordon, a senior counsel for the city of New York City. “The department was quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice.”

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Cursive Writing Disappearing from Public Schools

When I was in third grade, my teacher informed us that we would be learning to write in cursive that year. At first, I was very discouraged about this. I had just learned to write in print a few years before and now they want me to learn something completely different?! However, I quickly discovered that I really like writing in cursive and now, I never write in print unless instructed to do so.

Unfortunately, many public schools are no longer teaching cursive to their students. Recently, Hawaii announced that its schools will no longer be teaching cursive; Indiana and Illinois are two other states that are no longer requiring this education curriculum. Not surprisingly, this trend is causing some debate among American citizens and the line is usually drawn between those who write in cursive now and those who still use print. However, their reasons for their views differ. I talked to several recent college graduates and business owners about their opinions concerning this issue.
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