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March 09, 2010 2 min read
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THE SCHOOL LAW BLOG

Guns and Schools

In its 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment protected a Washington resident’s right to possess a gun unconnected to the militia. But since Heller involved the nation’s capital, the ruling left open the question of whether the Second Amendment would be applied to the states. The court took up that question last week in McDonald v. City of Chicago (Case No. 08-1521). And since the new case involves handgun bans adopted by Chicago, it was no surprise that the Chicago school system felt the urge to speak up to the justices.

“Gun violence has a profoundly negative impact on the educational opportunities of children in large urban centers like Chicago,” says the school system’s brief. “Children who live in terror of gun violence find it difficult to shed that fear at the schoolhouse door. They struggle to concentrate on their schoolwork and some see no reason to study, doubting they will live to adulthood. Gun violence also imposes extraordinary burdens on school administrators, teachers, and security personnel, who must be vigilant to keep guns out of schools and to keep children safe during the school day.” —Mark Walsh

LEARNING THE LANGUAGE

Head Start Teachers Catch Up

Head Start teachers from Native American or migrant communities have a lot of linguistic and cultural expertise, but they also tend to lack formal education credentials, according to a white paper released last week by the Academy for Educational Development.

The paper gives a number of reasons why it’s hard for these teachers who serve the most vulnerable students to get formal credentials. Many don’t live close to higher education institutions, for example. Many also lack proficiency in English, which makes it challenging to take college-level courses. The group recommends college curricula and instruction that stresses the teaching of language along with content, and calls for targeted financial aid. —Mary Ann Zehr

DISTRICT DOSSIER

Grow Your Own

In many districts of significant size, the school board has tended to hire superintendents from the outside, with few if any internal candidates applying. Those searches, normally conducted by national search firms, cost tens of thousands of dollars. As Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, told me recently, the mounting pressures make some qualified candidates think twice, especially when the pay differential among superintendents, principals, and teachers is not that much in many places. —Dakarai I. Aarons

A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Blogs of the Week

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