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October 30, 2012 4 min read
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Paperwork: Another Reason To Stop Bullying

Louisiana’s new anti-bullying law is drawing criticism for the workload it could place on schools once it takes effect in 2013.

Michael Faulk, the president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, told the state school board this month that implementing the new procedures would create an “administrative nightmare” for schools.

Louisiana approved Act 861 earlier this year, one of the most-extensive bullying laws in the nation. Faulk says that the procedural mandates will cause a big strain.

To begin with, bullying should be reported when it occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related function or activity, or on the school bus or at a school bus stop.

“And there’s Facebook,” Faulk said in a phone interview. The law makes provisions for cyberbullying, meaning that email, instant messages, text messages, and blogs are covered, too.

When a report is received, the school has one business day to open an investigation, and 10 school days to close it. In that time, investigators must interview the reporter, the victim, the alleged bully, and any witnesses, and must obtain any “copies or photographs of any audiovisual evidence.”

That reporting might sound standard if not for what Faulk says is an overly extensive definition of bullying. Rumormongering and “making faces,” for example, are both covered under the law. He says he’s already heard from several principals worried about implementation, especially the possible need to hire additional staff.

Not that Faulk disagrees with the law. Bullying is definitely a problem, he noted, but he wants to find ways to ease the burden on schools when the state legislature reconvenes in March.

His worries aren’t new ones; when New Jersey passed its anti-bullying law last year, for example, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators called it “well intentioned” but “overly prescriptive.”

Every state but Montana has a bullying law of some kind, but the implementation of such laws is clearly as important as the inception.

—Ross Brenneman


With E-Rate Data Release, Feedback Is Needed

The Federal Communications Commission has released volumes of data pertaining to E-rate applications and approvals for the 2010 fiscal year, and with it, a call for help of sorts.

In an official FCC blog post Oct. 19, the agency that governs the $2.3 billion program used by schools and libraries to subsidize Internet-related purchases called upon other interested parties to help analyze and interpret the data.

With 100,000 unique E-rate service requests and roughly 1.4 million records describing requests schools and libraries had approved, the category of service they purchased, the prices they paid, and the amount of E-rate funding disbursed in each case, that may be no easy task.

“We are eager to see what others can do with this data, and to understand what additional data we need to gather and publish to help answer important questions about the impact of the E-rate program,” reads the FCC blog.

Any person or organization brave enough to tackle such a challenge will need a compatible database application to access the information.

The FCC says that releasing fiscal 2010 data is only a first step and that the hope is to provide similar data from multiple years of E-rate applications and awards. It also welcomes input from educators about how to make access to such data easier, as well as how to explain the impact of the E-rate to policymakers and the general public.

The FCC stated an interest last fall in learning from applicants how best the E-rate program might be altered or reformed to accommodate schools’ increasing bandwidth demands.

—Ian Quillen


Translating the Standards for Dual-Language Classes

When it comes to putting the new common standards into classroom practice, dual-language teachers must adapt to teach the more rigorous guidelines in language arts and mathematics in English and a second language.

In many dual-language programs, particularly in the early grades, students are learning up to 90 percent of their content in the target language.

So what does the common core look like in Spanish/language arts, for example? Who is doing the kind of translation and modification that dual-language teachers need to bridge the language they are teaching in with the content standards? And where can dual-language teachers find more resources to help them?

One effort is called the Common Core en Español Project, led by the San Diego County office of education, with support from the California department of education and the Council of the Chief State School Officers. It doesn’t appear that its final translations are available for widespread use yet, but they are to be published soon on the California education agency’s common-core website.

Another initiative was spearheaded by educators in the District of Columbia public schools and researchers at the Center for Equity and Excellence in Education at George Washington University. Normas Para la Enseñanza de las Artes de Lenguaje en Español is described by the writers as being “carefully and closely aligned to the Common Core State Standards while still taking into account the linguistic differences between the Spanish and English languages, the methodological differences in Spanish- and English-literacy instruction, and traditional Spanish literacy-learning expectations.”

Officials in New York state, Albuquerque, N.M., and other places are developing similar guidelines.

—Lesli A. Maxwell

A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2012 edition of Education Week as Blogs of the Week


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