December 2001/January 2002
| Volume 59 | Number 4
Understanding the Law
Welcome to EL Extra. We have designed questions to help you and your colleagues foster meaningful discussions around this issue of Educational Leadership.
These questions will not cover all aspects of this issue, but we hope that they will help you generate a conversation around key ideas. Feel free to adapt the questions to be more relevant to your school or school district. Although you can consider many of the questions on your own, we encourage you to use them in pairs, small groups, or even large study groups.
EL Extra also appears every month online. At the home page (www.ascd.org), click Reading Room, Educational Leadership, and then the issue in which the articles you would like to discuss with colleagues were published.
Democracy thrives on debate. Several articles in this issue focus on encouraging civil discussion among students of different points of view. In "What Adolescents Know About Citizenship" (p. 45), Judith Torney-Purta shows how fostering an open discussion of public issues improves students' civic knowledge and commitment to future participation in a democracy. Students who practice interpreting and debating issues in essays, role plays, and mock trials and elections are on the road to becoming better citizens.
What issue is the local school board debating right now? Does and should the school administration review and censor certain kinds of materials in student newspapers? Do members of your group differ on flag salutes, prayer at school events, zero tolerance policies, or how to handle discipline? Do members of the group feel comfortable about students openly discussing these issues? Reach a consensus about which issue is most contentious.
Explore the extent to which your school or school district encourages student discussion of local, state, and national issues. Do schools hold mock elections during national or local elections? Do students write letters to the editor? What are some ways to generate discussion without acrimonious arguments or an increase in tension in the community? What does your school or district do to encourage open and civil debate of contentious issues?
From Hostile to Friendly Hallways
In "Hostile Hallways" (p. 20), Jacqueline Woods points out that harassment is common and that harassed students often suffer academically as well as psychologically.
Discuss the anti-harassment policy in your district. Does your school or district have a comprehensive, written policy that includes documenting incidents of harassment? Do you have a training program to help staff recognize and deal with harassment? Is there a structure for students to discuss what constitutes harassment? What procedures are in place to help the harassed student—and the harasser?
Describe friendly or hostile behavior that you have witnessed in the classroom, cafeteria, playground, or hallways of your school. Share examples of successful handling of harassment or bullying and of incidents that were more ambiguous and difficult to handle.
Explore the larger issue of school climate. Are there underlying tensions within the school that are detrimental to developing a sense of community? Does your school have peer mediation, leadership programs, or support groups to address some of these concerns? Discuss ways to get feedback from administrators, teachers, parents, and students about the school's level of friendliness or hostility. Consider ways to create a safe and supportive school environment and to improve school climate.
Knowing the Law
Because educators teach students about the value of obeying laws, they must know what the laws are and how they affect—or should affect—our behavior every day.
Carol Simpson's "Copyright 101" (p. 36) outlines the guidelines that educators should follow to respect copyright laws. Review the regulations and discuss how well your school or district complies. Has your school board approved a copyright policy and is everyone aware of it? Did any of the copyright laws mentioned in the article surprise you—for example, the rule against using videotapes for "entertainment or reward, such as during recess on a rainy day or after standardized tests to relieve stress" (p. 38)? Discuss the implications of these regulations on your daily activities.
How do copyright issues affect students? Robert L. Hanson ("The Case for Law-Related Education," p. 61) recommends inviting a copyright attorney to discuss with students intellectual property rights issues that students face on a regular basis—downloading music or Web pages from the Internet, for example. How might your school or district help students understand some of these and other law-related issues?
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Copyright © 2001 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development