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Weekly News Round-Up for March 2nd
posted by: Melissa | March 02, 2018, 07:37 PM   

Each week, AAE brings its members a round-up of what’s happening in education. From big, eye-catching headlines to the stories most papers overlook, we find the news our members really want to see. This week, there’s continued debate around violence in schools following the Florida shooting, the West Virginia strike enters its second week, and the Supreme Court hears arguments in Janus v. AFSCME.

National Response to Parkland Shooting: Two and a half weeks after the mass shooting in southern Florida, fall-out from the incident continues. The past weeks have seen a dramatic shift in people’s attitude towards gun control, with support for broader regulations shifting from 50% before the shooting to 70% after even though statistics show that schools are generally as safe or safer than they have been in the past. Still, activists point out that the issue of gun violence is much larger than school safety and they are planning a national school walk-out on March 14th, the one month anniversary of the shooting, leaving politicians scrambling to respond. The Department of Education has announced recovery support for the school involved in the shooting, while Florida Senator Marco Rubio is pushing a new bill to increase school safety and President Trump has announced plans to meet with creators of violent video games.

State Level Response to Gun Violence: Governors, state departments of education, and state legislatures across the country are also hurrying to respond to gun and school violence. Most of these proposals focus on “hardening” schools rather than controlling the access to guns by those who might have violent tendencies. This is seen most vividly in Florida, the state where the shooting happened, where legislators have been quick to propose changes to the state’s laws. In South Carolina, a proposed law would provide mental health counseling and armed guards for every single school and in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker called for increasing school safety although he was vague about the specifics other than to say he opposed arming teachers.

The Debate over Arming Teachers Continues: The most controversy continues to swarm around the debate over whether or not we should arm teachers, something that some states already do. Many teachers and parents in the area affected, however, claim they do not want teachers armed. This has not stopped states from moving forward with legislation. The debate was only heightened this week after a teacher in north Georgia barricaded himself in his classroom with a gun. Apparently, the teacher had a history of strange behavior despite being generally well-liked by his students.

West Virginia Strike Continues for Second Week: On Wednesday of this week, it looked like the state-wide teachers’ strike in West Virginia was about to come to an end. A deal had been reached that would provide a 5% pay raise, the first in four years, although it would not touch the issue of health care, one of the main sticking points in the strike. Strikers doubted the legislature’s promises to fix health care premiums in the near future, and when the State Senate refused to vote on the proposed deal, the agreement to return to work fell through. Teachers had said they will return to work when the proposal gets through the Senate however the Senate President, Mitch Carmichael, sent the bill for study in committee instead of introducing it on the floor for a vote. The committee then did not meet on Thursday and will instead consider the bill today.

Janus v. AFSCME: This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. The case considers whether or not public sector employees can be forced to pay agency fees as a prerequisite of employment. Agency fees were upheld in the 1977 case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, but recent developments have caused some to say that ruling should be looked at again. A similar case two years ago, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, attempted to do just that but ended in a split decision following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The case is likely to have a huge impact on unions across the country. Another case on the power of unions, Yohn v. California Teachers Association, is making its way through the system and is likely to continue no matter the outcome in Janus.

Happening Elsewhere:

Miami schools chief accepts, then abruptly declines de Blasio offer to lead NYC schools

Discovery Education to Find a New Owner in SF Private Equity Firm

Can sending public money to private schools improve equity?

Mississippi Senate Republicans break ranks to kill historic school funding overhaul

NC opens anonymous survey for teachers on state education issues

‘Anyone could molest you’: Boy tells parents about sexual encounters with middle school teacher

What’s going on where you are?

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