Wednesday, December 3, 2014
In January, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has held that Nicole Maines, a transgendered student who is biologically male but identifies as female, has the right to use the girl's restroom. Denying her that right was a violation of Maine's Human Rights Act. Maine's supreme court was the first to ever rule in favor of a transgendered student on this issue.
The case was remanded to the trial court for damages. Yesterday, the court ordered the district to pay Nicole $75,000 in damages. This clear cut victory should serve as serious warning for other districts, at least, in Maine.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The Westchester County Bar Association Foundation offers two year public interest law fellowships to provide legal help to the county’s underserved residents. It also provides training to a new lawyer who otherwise might not have the opportunity to do public interest work. The third fellow, Darren Guild, was hosted by Student Advocacy, a non-profit that provides legal, educational advocacy services to families in Westchester County, New York.
The Foundation attempts to match applicants with host sites that provide an opportunity for the students to further his/her interests. If you have a law student who will graduate next spring and is interested in education law, please encourage the student to apply for this fellowship. To request an application, the student should contact the Foundation: http://www.wcbany.org/?page=BarFoundation
Forbes magazine commissioned a study of the cost and benefits of the five big ideas for reforming education. The five big ideas will cost $6.2 trillion over 20 years and produce $225 trillion in additional gross domestic product. So what is the plan? Universal pre-k, teacher efficacy (attract, retain, and measure good teachers), school leadership (raise their salaries and give them the power to act like any other division head, including hiring and firing), blended learning (delivering rote information through technology and relying on teachers for value added instruction, which requires increasing computer and internet access), and common core curriculum.
Reduced to those headlines, it sounds simple. Reduced to the impressive financial spreadsheet, it sounds like a no brainer. To make sure, Forbes convened the top leaders from the four key constituent groups to ask whether the five big ideas are doable. The leaders were Arne Duncan, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Randi Weingarten, and D.C. public schools chancellor Kaya Henderson. They generally agree that the plan is doable.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Below is the introductory letter and new guidance on single sex education from the Department of Education:
Today, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance for K-12 schools that offer or want to offer single-sex classes. In response to numerous inquiries about the legality of single-sex classes, OCR issued guidance that charts a path for schools on how they can provide boys-only or girls-only instruction while remaining in compliance with civil rights laws.
Over the past year, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion on this blog (e.g., here, here, here, and here) and elsewhere about how schools prosecute and prevent rape, as well as deal with its aftermath. The law applies to all schools that receive federal funds, but the conversation has focused almost exclusively on colleges and universities. Last week, students in Oklahoma revealed how the problem can play out in public high schools.
Three students in Norman Public Schools accused a male classmate of sexually assaulting them. The school acted swiftly to remove the male student from school. The students' complaints, however, are in regard to the environment that developed afterward. They say that the alleged assailant's friends have now begun bullying them and it has not stopped. As a result, they withdrew from Norman High School. Now hundreds of other students have come to the girls defense, stagging a walkout protest last week. Whether there was a hostile environment and the school failed to adequately respond remains to be seen, but these students, like those concerned with curriculum issues in Colorado, have certainly found a way to shine a spotlight on the issue.