Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Common Core is Putting Teachers Back in the Curricular Driver’s Seat, Eduwonk

There’s been a lot of hullaballoo suddenly about the Common Core. Symptomatic of the strange political times we live in, the Tea Party Right and the social justice Left have found common ground on the purported dangers of Common Core standardization. What both sides miss, however, is the creative power of the Common Core: its potential to bring the professionalism in curricular creation and curation back to teachers.

In the past decade-plus of NCLB, teachers have lost much creative professional ground. States and districts have worked to ‘teacherproof’ curricula such that in many places administrators boasted of being able to leave one classroom mid-lesson and observe that very same lesson continue in an adjacent room. I still chafe at a note I received from an administrator after an Open Court observation: “Great job engaging the students with phonics, but you were supposed to be teaching short-vowel ‘ck’ spellings rather than short vowel ‘dge’” (actually, according to my scripted lesson plan, I wasn’t).

Miller V. Alabama: One Year Later, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

One summer night in 2003, 14-year-old Evan Miller and one of his friends discovered Cole Cannon, Miller’s neighbor, apparently passed out in his trailer. As Miller pulled $300 out of his neighbor’s wallet, Cannon suddenly regained consciousness. A fight among Cannon and the two boys ensued, Miller pummeling his neighbor with both his fists and a baseball bat. After covering Cannon in a bed sheet, the two returned to the trailer to clean up the blood. To conceal the crime, Miller and his friend decided to set the trailer ablaze; Cannon was alive, police investigators said, when the flames engulfed his mobile home.

Miller was ultimately found guilty of capital murder and given a life without parole sentence. Following a series of denied appeals on the state level, Miller’s counsel filed a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted the case a review in Nov. 2011.

New Leadership has Opportunity to Get Reform Back On Track, Children’s Rights

Following years of steady improvement, the reform of Tennessee’s child welfare system stalled in 2012, leaving some kids waiting too long for workers to investigate abuse allegations, and many older youth ill-prepared for life after state care, according to a report filed today. This occurred amid public struggles to implement a new computer system, track and review child deaths and overcome management issues.

“The pace of progress during this monitoring period has been disappointing,” a team of court-appointed monitors wrote in their evaluation of the 2012 performance of the Department of Children Services (DCS). The report is the 10th issued under a reform effort known as the Brian A. lawsuit, which was brought by national advocacy organization Children’s Rights and a team of Tennessee attorneys. The release of the report was delayed because of problems retrieving reliable data from the DCS computer system.

Brandon Schrecengost

About Brandon Schrecengost

Brandon Schrecengost is a second year student at the University of Houston Law Center. He graduated with his Bachelors degree in Anthropology from the University of Houston in 2007. After graduation, Brandon taught science and music at Sharpstown Middle School in Houston ISD. He began working as an intern with the Center for children Law and Policy this summer and is currently the treasurer of the International Law Society at UHLC. Brandon’s interest in how legal policy effects children the world over, particularly in the realm of education, continues to inform his work.

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