“There is no higher value in our society than integrity.” Arlen Specter
Integrity refers to a person having strong moral values. We associate people who have integrity as being honest and decent. To consistently do the “right” thing, even if nobody is watching. According to Seth Meyers, “The good news about integrity is that we’re not born with it—or without it—which means that it’s a behavior-based virtue we can cultivate over time.” (Psychology Today, 2015). Integrity is an extremely important trait to cultivate and highly valued in our society. As future teachers, you are expected to possess this characteristic and held to a higher standard than many other careers.
Teachers and Copyright Laws
Teachers are not exempt from copyright laws, and you must be careful about the materials you use in your classroom. In the Copyright Act of 1976, Congress established guidelines for the duplication of copyright works. According to the law, teachers may make a single copy of a chapter of a book, an article, a short story, short essay or poem, a diagram, chart or picture. Educators may make multiple copies of copyrighted work for the use in classroom provided they meet specific guidelines of brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect. Please refer to the following website for detailed guidelines:
Teachers also need to be mindful of copyright laws involving electronic media. Pay attention to copyright laws for using videos, DVDs and software programs. Be aware that internet laws are still evolving, and it is best to check with their librarian or media specialist in your school building.
Teachers as Mandated Reporters
In 1974, Congress enacted the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which defines child abuse and neglect as the physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a person who is responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances that indicate that the child’s welfare is harmed or threatened thereby. All states require teachers and school personnel to report suspected child abuse. Usually a reasonable suspicion, or a reasonable cause to believe is enough to require a teacher to report according to the law. Much more detailed information will be covered on this topic in the EDUC 213 class, you are required to take.
Teachers and Academic Freedom
Teachers have always been allowed a fair amount of academic freedom in creating and teaching their coursework. Academic freedom basically refers to the freedom of teachers to communicate information, without legal interference. So even if a teacher makes an off-color comment about their principal, the school district cannot fire that teacher. However, as previously mentioned, teachers are held to a higher code of ethics and should be mindful of what they say, print and post in social media.
Academic freedom can vary depending on what grades are being taught and where schools are located. Higher education tends to allow more academic freedom than secondary and elementary school teachers. There may be more public pressure about academic freedom of teachers in smaller, more rural schools than larger, city school districts. As future teachers, you need to be mindful of the school district you work in and pay careful attention to how you state facts versus opinions to your students.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA):
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment was passed by Congress in 1974. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. This law was passed to clarify who had access to students’ school records. Included in school records are personal records, grades, test scores and teachers’ reports. This law mandated that schools had to share all information about students with their parents and/or legal guardians. It further required schools to explain recorded observations to parents, when requested.
FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are “eligible students.” (U.S. Department of Education, 2018).
If the student is not a dependent, then the student must generally provide consent for the school to disclose the information to the parents.
Legal Issues Involving and Court Cases Involving Students’ Rights
Brown v Board of Education:
The famous landmark case, Brown versus the Board of Education involved a nine-year-old girl named Linda Brown when she was refused to attend an all-white elementary school in Topeka, Kansas. Oliver Brown, Linda’s father was the prime plaintiff in this case. “In his lawsuit, Brown claimed that schools for black children were not equal to the white schools, and that segregation violated the so-called “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment, which holds that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (History 2009). The court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka lasted from 1952 to 1954 and went to the United States Supreme Court. The court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. Schools were required to be desegregated, as a result of this ruling.
In the Supreme Court decision, issued on May 17, 1954, Justice Earl Warren wrote that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” As a result, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. (USA Today, 2019).
- Foundations of Education. Authored by: SUNY Oneonta Education Department. License: CC BY: Attribution