Public Education News Around the Country

Update: forgot about this local angle story via USA Today - Supreme Court to hear case of high school football coach who lost job after praying on field

The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear an appeal from a former high school football coach who says his First Amendment rights were violated when he lost his job after kneeling at the 50-yard-line in prayer. 

The lawsuit by Joseph Kennedy, a Bremerton High School coach who was placed on administrative leave in 2015, has become a cause célèbre among religious conservative groups who asserted he was denied his free speech rights as a private citizen. 

Kennedy's case made it to the Supreme Court once before, in 2019, as he sought to reclaim his job while the case continued. The court denied his appeal but four of its conservative justices wrote at the time that a lower court's ruling in favor of the school was "troubling" and that Kennedy's claims "may justify review in the future." 

The Bremerton School District, located just outside of Seattle, told the court in early December that school officials had heard from players' parents who said their children felt compelled to participate in the prayers. School officials said that they offered Kennedy time and space to pray before and after games, such as in the press box.

end of update

 Via The Guardian "Tennessee school board bans Pulitzer prize-winning Holocaust novel, Maus"

A Tennessee school board has banned a Pulitzer prize-winning novel from its classrooms over eight curse words and an illustration of a naked cartoon mouse. 
 
The graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by New Yorker Art Spiegelman, uses hand-drawn illustrations of mice and cats to depict how the author’s parents survived Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

The decision comes as conservative groups across the country are stepping up campaigns to ban books from school libraries, often focused on works that address race, LGBTQ issues or marginalized communities.

Apparently, this is a going thing in red states throughout the U.S.  

Via the AZ Mirror "GOP bill would force teachers to out LGBTQ students to parents"

Arizona Republicans this week lined up behind a measure that would discipline teachers and open them up to lawsuits if they don’t tell parents everything a student tells them — even if the student confides that he or she is gay or transgender. 

The legislation, House Bill 2161, would make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information that is “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child,” and specifically prevents teachers from withholding information about a student’s “purported gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than the “student’s biological sex.” 

The bill would allow parents to sue school districts if teachers don’t comply.

Let me add that public education in Arizona is crazy town. All the harsh things I ever said about Washington State? I'm sorry but it's sooo much worse here. Plus, if you go to the Legislature to testify, GOP legislators will cut you off, only allow a SINGLE person from each side to testify or demean speakers. 

In the words of the late, great Anthony Bourdain when he was a guest judge on Top Chef, "What kind of crackhouse are you running?" It's that bad. 

Via Axios "The SAT is going digital"

The College Board announced Tuesday that the SAT will be delivered digitally in the U.S. in 2024.

The College Board said it's seeking to make the SAT "more relevant," as some colleges start to ditch the college admissions exam altogether.

Students will still be required to take the exam in a school or in a test center, not at home, and the exam will be graded on a 1600 scale. 

The change makes the test easier to administer, and "schools will have more options for when, where, and how often they administer the SAT," according to the announcement.

Via the AP:

Test-takers will be allowed to use their own laptops or tablets but they’ll still have to sit for the test at a monitored testing site or in school, not at home.

The format change is scheduled to roll out internationally next year and in the U.S. in 2024. It will also shave an hour from the current version, bringing the reading, writing and math assessment from three hours to about two.

Also from Arizona via AZ Central "Arizona public schools face a funding cliff that could force some to close by April"

Not because of COVID-19 this time, but because of a perfect storm of problems with our state’s school funding system. (Arizona public school funding, by the way, already ranks lowest in the nation).
The irony is that this spring, school districts are running into something called the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL) that was created more than 40 years ago.

As a result, school districts cannot legally spend the money the Legislature already approved months ago as part of the state budget. 

So, districts already have the state-approved money in their bank accounts. They just can’t spend it.

This technical roadblock means – without immediate bipartisan legislative action – districts across Arizona will have to eliminate 15% or more of their already approved budgeted expenses this spring.

And I have not heard word one out of the AZ legislature on what they will do.

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