Tuesday, November 28, 2017

New Policy for Dept on Ed Civil Rights?

"So, can a teacher have a Christmas tree and a crucifix on his/her desk?"

As we approach the "holiday season," which of course includes Christmas, the annual questions about religious holiday displays on public property will once again flare up on news commentary and social media. There are clear guidelines for what can be deemed acceptable displays, but those are always going to be contextual based on the time, place, and people. And these questions are part of a larger socio-cultural question about civil rights in schools that spans a range from Christmas songs to reading lists.

At the federal level it appears there will be some changes in how the US Dept of Education handles such issues, with the emphasis moving to "individual complaints rather than systemic problems."

WASHINGTON — The Education Department wants to narrow the scope of civil rights investigations at schools, focusing on individual complaints rather than systemic problems, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press. Under the Obama administration, when a student complained of discrimination in a particular class or school, the education agency would examine the case but also look at whether the incident was part of a broader, systemic problem that needed to be fixed. Proposed revisions to the department's civil rights procedures, distributed last week among civil rights officials at the department, remove the word "systemic" from the guidelines.
It seems unimaginable to me that we still debate reading lists and are "banning" books like Fahrenheit 451, but apparently that's where we still are.