Georgia Court: Students Can Stand Their Ground

Students’ right to self defense was recently upheld in a Georgia Court of Appeals case, in which a student claims she was wrongfully expelled under harsh zero-tolerance discipline policies that neglect state law’s protection.

Zero-Tolerance Policies in U.S. Schools are Ineffective and Unaffordable

Despite public concerns about youth crime, particularly in schools, research has shown that policies based on incapacitation theory have failed utterly to affect crime rates. In fact, while youth crime rates have fallen significantly over the last 30 years, they have continued to plummet despite recent trends towards community-based alternatives (e.g., the ‘Missouri Model’). The evidence suggests that not only do punitive disciplinary approaches often fail they are also unnecessary. It is particularly troubling, then, to consider the police presence and draconian disciplinary measures that have increasingly found their way into America’s schools. Schools typically have rules forbidding mobile phone use, profanity and the like.

School Discipline Debate Reignited by New Los Angeles Data

This story originally appeared on iWatchnews.org by the Center for Public Integrity

As a national debate heats up over appropriate student discipline, new data from Los Angeles reveal that school police there issued more than 33,500 court summonses to youths between 10 and 18 in three years — with more than 40 percent of those tickets going to children 14 and younger. The data obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show that officers of the nation’s largest school police force issued the equivalent of 28 tickets every day to students during the 2011 calendar year. The Los Angeles Unified School District totals almost 680,000 pupils; the district’s police force has 340 sworn officers and support staff. Students ticketed in 2009 through 2011 were disproportionately Latino or African American. Last year, black students represented about 10 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District but 15 percent of those ticketed.

school vending machine

Want Fries with That? Only if it’s Regulated

Care for a fizzy soda pop with that lunch room meal? How about a thick slice of pizza to add to that loaded-up cafeteria tray? Want a bag of chips or fries with that? Chances are, many public school kids would say yes to any of the above. It might not be a healthy choice, but rest assured, these foods are served widely in school cafeterias.

Washington State’s High Court Rules Legislature Not Doing Enough to Fund Education

The Washington State Legislature has failed to meet its constitutional responsibility to fund public education for the last three decades, according to a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court. “By the Legislature’s own terms, it has not met its duty to make ample provision for ‘basic education,’” wrote Justice Debra Stephens in an 85-page opinion. “This court cannot idly stand by as the Legislature makes unfulfilled promises for reform.”

In 2009, the Legislature passed a bill meant to reform funding formulas, HB2261, and update the 1977 Basic Education Act by 2018. In Justice Stephens’ opinion, the high court reaffirmed its jurisdiction to oversee the Legislature’s timely implementation of those changes. “Ultimately, it is our responsibility to hold the State accountable to meet its constitutional duty,” Justice Stephens writes in the opinion.

As Economy Sags More Students Receiving Free School Lunches

As families continue to struggle during the economic crisis, record numbers of students are receiving free or low-cost school lunches. Department of Education officials reported that 52 percent of fourth graders are now enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program, up from 49 percent in 2009. Last school year, 21 million students received subsidized school lunches, up 17 percent from 18 million in 2006-2007, The New York Times reports. In that same period 11 states saw increases of 25 percent or more as layoffs severely cut into family incomes. The Agricultural Department reports that all 50 states have seen increases in enrollment. Students qualify for free lunches if their families have incomes up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level, or $29,055 for a family of four. In a four-member household with income up to $41,348, children qualify for a subsidized lunch priced at 40 cents.

Students Disciplined in Texas Public Schools More Likely to Enter Juvenile Justice System

Educators are reacting to a recent study of Texas public schools that found students who were disciplined were more likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system and do poorly academically. The study, by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, also found that 60 percent of Texas public school students received some form of punishment at least once between seventh and 12th grades. “Policymakers should be asking if the school discipline system is getting the outcomes they want it to get,” Michael Thompson, director of the center, told The Washington Post. The study was co-authored by Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. Researchers collected data from about 1 million public school students who began seventh grade in 2000, 2001 or 2002. Nearly 15 percent were involved in some way with the juvenile justice system.

Benjamin Chambers On the School-to-Prison Pipeline

How do you reduce the number of kids going into the juvenile justice system? Overhaul school disciplinary policies. Here’s a quick overview of research on the problem, a great video that puts a human face on the issue in Connecticut, and some things you can do. Just yesterday, the Council of State Governments Justice Center released Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement. The report is based on a groundbreaking study of nearly 1 million secondary school students in Texas.

Best Buy Helps Give Best to Kids

The Best Buy Children’s Foundation is offering the @15 Community Grants Program. This grant enables teens to thrive by helping them excel in school, engage in communities and develop life and leadership skills. The Foundation offers a number of grants ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to nonprofits that serve kids between the ages of 13-18. The deadline to apply for this grant is August 1, 2011.