I'm an education lawyer, with experience representing parents, students and community organizations concerned with improving their schools. I'm also co-director of the Education Law Center-PA, a nonprofit, public interest advocacy organization. (You can find out more at www.elc-pa.org, though I hasten to add that this blog contains only my views and does not necessarily represent those of ELC.)
As I see it, schools can be (though too often aren't) places where students and teachers will want to spend their time. I believe that learning is naturally exciting -- and that if we can create the conditions where that excitement can be felt, a lot of other things (such as test scores) will tend to take care of themselves. Of course, I also know that this is an oversimplification -- but one has to start somewhere, and that's where I start.
I hope to use this blog to talk about ways in which education laws can contribute to creating better schools for all children -- and especially for those (poor kids, kids with disabilities, English language learners, and lots of others) who still, in the 21st century in the most advantaged country on the planet, face shockingly poor educational opportunities.
“The students are hopeless."
“The union is useless."
“The administrators are incompetent, and liars to boot."
“The families are horrible."
These, and many more, are among the comments responding to the Inquirer series on school violence.
I don’t know exactly what Ms. Moffett - the Audenried teacher whose disciplinary transfer Ben Herold described in two recent stories - said or did. Plus, I’m not an employment lawyer. So I can't really speak to her legal situation.
I do know, though, that public employees, such as teachers, have First Amendment rights – even if, as in many areas, those rights are not absolute.
Picture yourself walking into a huge, noisy factory that makes education. We won’t stop right now to talk about the quality of the product. Instead, we’ll just take in, for a moment, the commotion, the people racing around, the machines rising and falling and clanking and crashing. We’ll call this factory the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Where do big lawsuits come from?
This is the Darwinian question that occurred to me last week when I learned about “webcamgate” (as some Lower Merion students have called it). That’s the situation that has led to a class action complaint in which a student accuses the district of spying on him and others in their homes, through cameras installed in laptops.
Of all the grumpy things that people say about immigrants, one of the more unusual is that they don’t sit their kids down on arrival and teach them English. But that’s one of several points made by Christopher Paslay in an op-ed earlier this week.