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Dress code controversies, Point Park faculty’s breaking point & NAACP wants charter ban: 5 things to know today |

Dress code controversies, Point Park faculty’s breaking point & NAACP wants charter ban: 5 things to know today

Kaique Rocha
More than 40 students have been suspended in the Penn Hills School District for dress code violations.
Kelsey Evans (left) and Dakota Diliscia outside Plum High School on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. The 14-year-old freshmen said they were skipping class to protest enforcement of a school district dress code in which students were sent home for wearing items of clothing displaying Confederate flags.

With classes back in session, controversies are erupting around the country over a K-12 issue that has nothing to do with curriculum: the student dress code.

On Thursday night, Durham Public Schools in North Carolina officially banned the Confederate flag , Ku Klux Klan symbols and swastikas from any items of clothing — an issue that sent students home last year in Allegheny County’s Plum School District.

These high school boys in California showed up for school wearing off-the-shoulder shirts as a sign of solidarity for female classmates who were told shirts that show their shoulders could be “too distracting” to their male peers. This 9-year-old Texas boy growing his curly locks to donate to cancer patients was told his hair was too long , as was this 4-year-old kindergartner .

A South Carolina high school principal held an assembly to apologize to students after telling a group of girls that when they wear leggings “unless you are a size zero or a two … even though you are not fat, you look fat .”

Parents and teachers came together at this Illinois high school to make the dress code more gender-neutral; now, all students must cover their upper thighs, chest, butt and midriff regardless of gender.

You may recall the hoodie hysteria that broke out last year in Penn Hills.

Meanwhile, students in college — where leggings and hoodies are arguably ubiquitous — are settling into their residence halls across greater Pittsburgh. Check out move-in days around the region , including at Pitt , CMU , Seton Hill , Point Park and Pitt Greensburg — which the Trib’s Debra Erdley points out costs students about $6,000 less than Pitt’s main campus in Oakland.

Onto your daily dose of education news from around the region, state and nation.

Here are five things to know today:

1). POINT PARK FACULTY BACKLASH: The board overseeing Point Park University maintains its administration and college President Paul Hennigan has its “full support,” despite severe backlash from full-time faculty. The board announced Thursday it plans to appoint an outside expert to examine why a majority of 89 faculty members cast no-confidence votes in Hennigan on Wednesday. Among grievances, faculty members claim that during Hennigan’s 12-year tenure the university has failed to retain an acceptable ratio of full- to part-time faculty, improve diversity and respond to “the needs and welfare of students at the university, including those students who are unprepared for college.”

The disapproving vote comes amid contract negotiations as the college’s faculty members seek to become an official union.

A vote on a tentative contract agreement has been scheduled for Monday, theatre professor John Shepard told me this morning.

2). CMU DESIGNS ‘FAKE NEWS’ GAME: A team of students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center decided to explore the spread of false or exaggerated information presented as news with a game, the Trib’s Aaron Aupperlee reports . Their project, Axon, combined virtual reality and live role-playing to show how fake news — actual fake news, not merely news updates or opinions that people don’t like — gets amplified and shared through the likes of social media. The team designed the product for Games of Change, an annual festival that tackles social issues through games held at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York.

3). PITTSBURGH PUBLIC OKs TAX DEAL: The Pittsburgh Public Schools board cleared the way this week for developers to get tax incentives to build a four-story building next to the Strip District’s Produce Terminal, the Trib’s Theresa Clift reports . The building — called District 15 — will replace a parking lot at Smallman and 16th streets where people pay monthly to park. Those commuters will be able to use a nearby lot when the project begins, said Alco Parking President Merrill Stabile, whose company manages the lots.

4). BAD OUTCOMES FROM CLOSING SCHOOLS: A new study found that shutting down failing schools doesn’t help the majority of displaced students fare any better academically, Denisa Superville reports for Education Week . The report by the Center for Research and Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that less than half of students from low-performing schools that closed in 26 states between 2006 and 2013 ended up transferring to higher-performing schools. The study also found, however, that for those who did make it to schools with stronger academic records, low-income and minority students netted major gains. For example, Hispanic students who ended up at “higher-performing schools gained the equivalent of 74 additional days of learning in math.”

5). NAACP WANTS CHARTER MORATORIUM: Citing concerns over transparency, achievement and equity, the NAACP has called for a moratorium on charter schools — public schools that can be privately run and have more flexibility than traditionally run public schools over regulations and spending. The group argues who controls schools matters, stating that “charter schools with privately appointed boards do not represent the public yet make decisions about how public funds are spent.”

“It’s not just to oppose Trump’s influence,” writes Michelle Chen for The Nation . “It’s a bottom-up revolt against years of corporatization of public education.”

The issue, to be sure, is more complicated than one side or another, traditional versus charter schools, status quo or radical change — especially when it comes to concerns such as segregation. In greater Pittsburgh, for instance, where racial disparities persist at a majority of schools, studies have shown that some charter schools have even less diversity than traditional neighborhood ones.

Have a piece of back-to-school advice or experience to share? Tweet at the Trib’s education team using the hashtag #b2sTrib or send an email to [email protected]

Don’t forget to follow the TribLIVE Education Team on Twitter:

• Emily Balser @emilybalser (Valley News Dispatch newsroom)

• Debra Erdley @deberdley_Trib (Greensburg newsroom)

• Jamie Martines @Jamie_Martines (Greensburg newsroom)

• Natasha Lindstrom @NewsNatasha (Pittsburgh newsroom)

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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