In what they called "a modern sit-in," the 46 Upper Bucks County students -the first of 225 who defied school officials on March 14's National School Walkout Day - arrived last Saturday carrying placards bearing the names of kids who'd been gunned down in February's Parkland, Fla., massacre, then sat on the floor and locked arms in a silent protest.
Educators said they want teachers to be able to talk with their students about safety issues and procedures in the aftermath of the teen shooter who gunned down 17 people in the Florida high school, but the key is to find ways that won't agitate students, make them feel less secure, or politicize the heated topic.
Advocates say what makes Bucks Learning Cooperative and a small but growing number of other self-directed learning schools so unique is a commitment to open-ended education driven by the passion and energy of young learners, with adults on hand to gently steer students towards knowledge of things they truly care about. Students can take subjects as traditional as math or as unorthodox as learning about trains.
School district solicitor Kenneth A. Roos said the Supreme Court won't rule on the merits of the district's challenge, but rather if it should be barred from pursuing it because Lower Merion failed to meet the 10-day deadline for filing post-trial motions after Smyth's initial ruling.
The recent record cold spell along the Eastern Seaboard last week called nationwide attention to classrooms with little or no heat not just in Chester-Upland but in cities such as Baltimore, which closed a handful of schools as pictures of shivering students in heavy winter coats and gloves went viral. But officials said last week's problems have been years in the making as schools deferred spending on critical infrastructure, especially since the 2008 financial crisis.
The 5-4 vote to resume construction upended a tax revolt led by three new members of the board, who voted to pull the plug on the school three hours after being sworn into office on Dec. 4. They were joined by two other board members for a 5-4 vote.
The Nov. 7 election in the 3,300-student Montgomery County district represented a voter backlash against the building plan, which many feared would send property taxes through the roof. The district maintained that middle school enrollment was expected to grow and the current 58 year-old building has already been expanded or renovated five times.
I cover schools in the region with a particular focus on innovation and trends.