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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Soundbites for April 2007 Learning Matters

EDITORS: The following mp3 audio soundbites are available for download on the School of Education Web site at

Butera says the effects of poverty on rural school children is often overlooked:

"When we think of kids in poverty, we think of inner-city. We don't think of kids in rural poverty. And actually, kids in rural poverty can be in many cases more vulnerable to the effects of poverty because, for example, they may not have access to social services."

McCarthy says the court in the "Bong Hits for Jesus" student speech case will have a hard time ruling against the student on the basis of the disruption standard in Tinker or the conflict with school mission standard of Fraser.

"There was no evidence of a disruption. That would be very hard for anybody to conclude from the facts of the case. Kenneth Starr, who is arguing on behalf of the board, argued that the expression represented the school -- because the students had been released, the cheerleaders were there, the band was playing, so it was a school-sponsored event -- I think it would be very hard for the court to conclude that students raising this banner, really that that expression represented the school, although that argument was made."

McCarthy says both sides could get a partial ruling.

"Reverse the damages because the law was not clearly established and still say, 'but it was Frederick's right to put the banner up. We just can't award damages.' The court might go that route. In that way both sides are going to think they won."

McCarthy says the fear of broadly interpreting Fraser is why the ACLU and some Christian groups are fighting together on the side of the student.

"Let's say they say, 'well, it was inconsistent with the school's mission -- the school doesn't want to promote drugs.' That would be broadly interpreted. Anything that has to do with the school's mission could then be curtailed. Any T-shirt that in any way conflicted with the school mission whether it be not promoting drugs, or if it's safe and orderly environment, you could take that pretty far. So I think that's the fear -- and that's the fear of the Christian groups."

Skiba says there is some evidence that younger school children might be more open to school uniforms.

"There was one dissertation study that suggested it might differ by elementary and secondary levels. The findings in that study were that at the elementary level that kids bought into the uniforms pretty well. The adults were able to define the climate well-enough so that there wasn't resistance. In that case, they were able to see improvements whereas at the secondary level, the whole issue of student resistance and resentment raised some questions about whether it's worthwhile."

Skiba says there's nothing conclusive in research so far on school dress codes.

"There's some literature out there that says under certain conditions, and at certain levels, school uniforms probably can lead to a school climate that is more effective where students buy into their learning more -- it becomes more productive -- but given that we don't know exactly what those conditions are, it really becomes important when we put this new policy in place, to test that."

Eckes says research doesn't indicate a huge number of home-schooled students will jump onto the public school rolls because of virtual charter schools.

"Within one of the states, they said it was in the teens, of those who actually moved from home schooling into the cyber school movement. So percentage wise, I don't know that it would be 50 percent."