Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Coy Mathis, a transgender 6-year-old who identifies as a female but was born a male, has won a decision by the Colorado Civil Rights Division that will enable her to use the girls’ bathroom at school. Mathis’ parents filed their complaint in February after Eagleside Elementary School rescinded the child’s permission to use the girls’ bathroom. More from NBC News:
By not allowing Coy to use the girls’ restroom, the school “creates an environment rife with harassment,” Steven Chavez, the division director, wrote in the decision.
The school district, about 15 miles south of Colorado Springs, Colo., also showed “a lack of understanding of the complexity of transgender issues” by referring to Coy as a male or using quotes around “her” throughout the litigation, Chavez wrote.
The school district could not be reached for comment on the ruling Sunday.
Coy was born a male, but began at an early age to identify as a girl through toys and dress and started calling herself a girl between the ages of 4 and 6, according to the summary of the division’s ruling.
Image: Girls’ bathroom, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
A growing number of elementary schools across the country are returning to “ability grouping,” a practice that groups students not by age, but by school level. The practice was popular in the 1980s and 90s, but fell out of favor amid discomfort from parents who feared the policy was unequal and placed poor and minority students at a disadvantage. More from The New York Times:
A new analysis from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a Census-like agency for school statistics, shows that of the fourth-grade teachers surveyed, 71 percent said they had grouped students by reading ability in 2009, up from 28 percent in 1998. In math, 61 percent of fourth-grade teachers reported ability grouping in 2011, up from 40 percent in 1996.
“These practices were essentially stigmatized,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who first noted the returning trend in a March report, and who has studied the grouping debate. “It’s kind of gone underground, it’s become less controversial.”
The resurgence of ability grouping comes as New York City grapples with the state of its gifted and talented programs — a form of tracking in some public schools in which certain students, selected through testing, take accelerated classes together.
These programs, which serve about 3 percent of the elementary school population, are dominated by white and Asian students.
Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker who is running for mayor, has proposed expanding the number of gifted classes while broadening the criteria for admission in hopes of increasing diversity. (The city’s Education Department has opposed the proposal, saying that using criteria other than tests would dilute the classes.)
Teachers and principals who use grouping say that the practice has become indispensable, helping them cope with widely varying levels of ability and achievement.
Image: School children, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Although parents have expressed vocal concern that a yoga program in place in five Encinitas, California schools are religiously inappropriate because of the practice’s Hindu roots, organizers of the program say the it will continue and expand to all nine of the city’s elementary schools. Proponents of the program say that it is part of an important physical education and healthy living program designed to help kids care for their bodies and regulate their emotions.
More from the local public radio station, KPBS.org:
Schools across the country are focusing more on teaching students to make healthy choices. Encinitas Superintendent Tim Baird said yoga is just one part of the district’s physical education curriculum.
“We also have a nutrition program, we also have a life skills program where kids learn about perseverance and responsibility,” he said.
The whole wellness program is supported by a $500,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation. The Encinitas-based group promotes a kind of yoga called Ashtanga.
But, when Mary Eady visited a yoga class at her son’s Encinitas school last year, she saw much more than a fitness program.
“They were being taught to thank the sun for their lives and the warmth that it brought, the life that it brought to the earth,” she said, “and they were told to do that right before they did their sun salutation exercises.”
Those looked like religious teachings to Eady, so she opted her son out of the classes. The more she reads about the Jois Foundation and its founders’ beliefs in the spiritual benefits of Ashtanga yoga, the more convinced Eady is that it can’t be separated from its Hindu roots.
“It’s stated in the curriculum that it’s meant to shape the way that they view the world, it’s meant to shape the way that they make life decisions,” she said. “It’s meant to shape the way that they regulate their emotions and the way that they view themselves.”
Eady is part of a group of parents working with Dean Broyles, president and chief counsel of the Escondido-based National Center for Law and Policy.
“And then the question becomes – if it is religious, which it is, who decides when enough religion has been stripped out of the program to make it legal,” he said. “I mean that’s the problem when you introduce religion into the curriculum and actually immerse and marinate children in the program.”
Eady and the other parents want the classes made completely voluntary and moved to before or after the school day. They say school officials haven’t responded to their specific concerns.
Image: Child doing yoga, via Shutterstock
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