Shorter School Weeks and Federal Funding of Guns in School [IEP 045]
Our fundraiser is this Thurs, Sept. 13, 2018! Be sure to purchase your ticket to our Panel Discussion and Silent Auction here. The topic of discussion for this fundraiser is Building the Bridge Between Mental Health, School, and Learning.
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A Colorado School District has decided to adopt a four-day school schedule due to budget concerns. This ultimately affects the students. But is there some benefit to implementing this change?
Along with discussing shorter school weeks, we also discuss Betsy DeVos’s plan to use federal funds to purchase guns for schools and whether or not that is the best use of federal funding.
Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.
What We Discuss in This Episode:
- How this Colorado School District is changing its school week schedule
- What certain school districts do on snow days
- Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s plan to use federal funding to purchase guns for schools
- Should federal funds be used to purchase guns when there are other more pressing school concerns that require funding?
- School Safety Bill passed by Congress to educate students and teachers about warning signs for gun violence
- Focusing on improving the curriculum and providing technology is great but how are guns considered useful?
- What we can learn from other countries when it comes to increased gun presence
Article about Colorado’s new changes.
Article about DeVos’s plan.
Full Show Transcript
Vickie Brett: Welcome to the inclusive education project. I’m Vickie Brett.
Amanda Selogie: I’m Amanda Selogie. We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission. To change the conversation about education, civil rights and modern activism.
Vickie Brett: Each week we’re going to explore new topics which are going to educate and empower others.
Amanda Selogie: And give them a platform to enact change in education and level the playing field.
Vickie Brett: Another week has gone by, this is dropping at on a Tuesday. Like to think that’s when fresh music hits. And when a fresh episode of our podcast drops.
Amanda Selogie: And today it’s a special week because if you’re listening to this, the day it dropped it’s September 11th. Which I just realized that will be until 9/11 is always a tough day. So the reason I brought it up was we have our event on Thursday of this week. So if you haven’t yet bought tickets, please, please, please, if you’re interested, go buy tickets because it’s more expensive at the door. We are filling up pretty fast.
Vickie Brett: So it’s our building the bridge between school learning and mental health. Another heavy topic that we’re hoping to round out with a great panel discussion. Last week we talked about the amazing moderator and panelists that we were going to have, and then we talked about our fourth annual silent auction.
So we’re hoping that the heavy topic, the drinks that you get with every ticket that you purchase, the heavy appetizers and obviously signed baseballs that we had from angel players, cheese cake factory, gift certificates, Pacific symphony tickets. If you’ve never been to a symphony or-
Amanda Selogie: Skirball center, be a member for the day.
Vickie Brett: We have.
Amanda Selogie: It’s like Improv ticket.
Vickie Brett: Yes. Just like night outs that you can bid on. So we’re hoping to round out that heaviness with a fun night out and today we wanted to just kind of give a shout out to all the amazing sponsors because without them.
Amanda Selogie: We wouldn’t be having this event.
Vickie Brett: First and foremost, the inclusive education project obviously is-
Amanda Selogie: Is hosting.
Vickie Brett: Hosting. With-
Amanda Selogie: With Selogie and Brett, Fusion Academy, Apprentice School and the Johnson Academy. But we have some other amazing sponsors that will be at the event. Either they’ll have booths at the event or there’ll be putting information in your swag bags. So you’ll have an opportunity to get more information about our sponsors as well as talk to people who will be there. So we have Behavior Frontiers, Bright Brain Learning, DBT center of Orange County, Evolve Treatment Center, Gateway Learning, You resumed me and [no 00:02:49]. Is that right?
Vickie Brett: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amanda Selogie: Julian Pailin shout out to you guys who were on the pod little while back.
Vickie Brett: Or estate planning attorneys.
Amanda Selogie: Richard Ross Associates.
Vickie Brett: Fan light attorney.
Amanda Selogie: And the YMCA of Orange County. So that’s our sponsors for now. We’re still getting some trickling in so we may even have more. So if any of those organizations or, “Hey, I’d like to learn more about them.” Or if you’re a competing organization, no just kidding. If you’re another organization in that field and you want to be able to network with some of these organizations and you want to be a sponsor too.
Or if you just want to come to the event and have an opportunity to speak. If you work, if you’re a teacher, administrator, if you work for a school and you’re interested in learning more about the providers that are outside of the school that might be able to the supplement or just to be a referral service for students that you’re dealing with the great opportunity to network with them.
And get some more information about the just variety of services that are available for our kiddos and our families in Orange County. And a lot of these organizations also have ones in LA and some of the schools they have multiple. So it’s not just Orange County based. It’s like southern California for the most part and-
Vickie Brett: Multiple locations. And service that maybe not even just California. They could be servicing other states as well, but we were hoping that with the panel discussion you kind of learn a little bit with the vendors that do have a booth or with the sponsors.
I shouldn’t say vendors and sponsors that have stuff in their swag bag. We just want this to be a really comprehensive night in which you can take something away with you physically, obviously swag bag and with all that information and mentally and emotionally with discussion so you can still buy tickets.
Before you get them at the door, you just need to visit www.b … as in boy, it.lyboard/iep panel or purchasing those tickets those not early bird but just before the event tickets. Because tickets will go up at the door. So there’s just a couple of the VIP tickets.
We had to obviously limit those because everybody, what everybody wants to be a very important person. But that’s the point of having very important people is that you limit them. And obviously we want there to be a great discussion between any of the VIPs and the panelists. So that’s something that we had to limit.
So I think there’s still a couple tickets left for you to purchase. And then there are still tickets left for the general admission. So you get your drink ticket through the door. You are able to get heavy appetizers and just a fun night out. So we’ve been running around like chickens without our heads. We’re really excited and again we couldn’t have done it without our main sponsors, the Fusion Academy, Kathy Johnson from the Johnson Academy and Devin from the apprentice and shout out to Camille and more for fusion. I decided to start naming them so.
Amanda Selogie: They’ve been amazing.
Vickie Brett: [crosstalk 00:06:02] they’ve been.
Amanda Selogie: Not only fund this event but orchestrate the planning because as you’ll see on Thursday if you’re able to make it a lot goes into planning events like this, and we couldn’t do without them. So we appreciate it.
Vickie Brett: The Chuck Jones they have a creativity. If you haven’t been there, obviously Chuck Jones behind Bugs Bunny, things like that. So they always have just a really cool vibe and we’re so appreciative that we were able to kind of get that venue on that night. So it’ll be a fun time.To kind of get into some stuff. This may seem like old news, but we’ve been kind of watching it.
There was an article at the end of July, early August regarding a Colorado school districts closing a day. So they moved to a four day school schedule. Now before you say, “Well Vickie, there’s some European schools and they do a four day school week and it’s super beneficial.” That’s probably cool and that probably happens and that’s awesome.
If that were the reason for why Colorado did this and unfortunately that is not the reason why Colorado decided to go to a four day school schedule. They actually had to do it for budgetary reasons. So it’s unfortunate because that affects not just the students. They are adding I think 40 minutes to the actual school day. So it’s going to be a little bit of a longer day for those four days, but it’s saving them a million dollars-
Amanda Selogie: So-
Vickie Brett: And they don’t have enough in their budget to do things.
Amanda Selogie: So here’s my question about them. They’re saying they’re saving money by not having an additional day, but they’re adding time to the other days?
Vickie Brett: Right.
Amanda Selogie: That may equate to that day. So is it … They’re trying to pay their teachers lastly for only four days, but then they’re having a longer day that seems like-
Vickie Brett: Seems like Mondays, no school. And that way they only need to pay for school buses and substitute teachers for four days out of the week. And what their kind of reasoning was is that if there’s a lot bus and travel gets expensive when the kids are in rural parts. And the thought processes is, “Okay, well get them there.” We’ll extend it by 40 minutes and I’m sure they deal with like snow days and stuff. So sometimes that stuff happens but it’s-
Amanda Selogie: What are we talking about how school districts are now trying to take away … We talking about this? Get away from snow days and there … Maybe I should put an article about this.
Vickie Brett: I feel like we have talked about that.
Amanda Selogie: Do I need a way from school days and they’re trying to assign like online work instead of school days?
Vickie Brett: Yeah, and I mean they mentioned that in the article as well. They’re trying to figure out other ways to save money and they have had been talking about we’ve been able to put a counselor in every elementary school in one ladder. One, two WED program which puts a Chromebook in the hands of every middle school and high school students.
So it’s not like the superintendent is … It’s with a heavy heart that I’m sure that he’s going from the well we always used to do it this way. And we want to keep a close eye on it because like I mentioned before, yet there are some different countries that have a different way.
I know my mum’s from Ecuador and I remember being out late and seeing like just groups of school kids in uniforms and stuff. And I’m like mom, “Why are these kids just rolling around all day every day?” And she’s like, “Oh there’s a two part day. They’re going to school full time because they have worked in the morning or whatnot. And then they go to school at night.” And so that’s a very interesting kind of way of like, I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so crazy[inaudible 00:09:43].”
Amanda Selogie: We’ve also talked about how there’s a difference between quality and quantity. Not just of learning, but also of productive work. I think this is something that companies talk about more … Companies like Google or these big corporations and like something that we try to have in our businesses as well of that idea that there can be flexibility in work times. Because the times that you’re productive may not be the times that I’m productive.
You might have five hours of good productive work and if you’re forced to be there for eight the other three hours are a waste of time. We’ve talked about this when we were in law school. We had students that would be in the library for 10 to 12 hours straight. But where they weren’t doing 10 to 12 hours worth of work they were doing maybe, actually four hours because they had so many breaks because your brain can’t function for that long. And so we-
Vickie Brett: It depends.
Amanda Selogie: Right. I will go there for four hours get, but focus the entire time and get same amount of work done sometimes. And so everybody has their ways of learning. But also I think what other countries are teaching us is there are other ways to do it. That six hours a day or eight hours a day, Monday through Friday isn’t necessarily.
Especially when you consider kids who have IEPs or at times have therapies after school. Other kids might have extracurricular activities. So there are days tend to be very long and so maybe they’re not retaining as much in that full day. So maybe a four day isn’t actually bad. Maybe getting them to recharge their batteries over a three day weekend every weekend might be better.
Vickie Brett: Great. And that’s why we wanted to discuss this week. We have another article that we’re going to discuss, but I just, I wanted to kind of point out, like I said, “It’s a school district, it’s not the state of Colorado, it’s district 27J and it’s located right outside of Denver.” And they service about 18,000 students. And they had come to this decision because of their operating budget, but also because you had brought up, “Oh, are they going to try to pay their teachers more?”
And it was something where 15% of their teachers over the last 15 years, they’ve lost so many of them because they can go to a neighboring district and make $10,000 dollars more.
Amanda Selogie: Geez.
Vickie Brett: And so then … And that’s just a neighboring district. They don’t have to move out of state or anything like that. And if you guys remember actually in April of this year, thousands of teachers in Colorado had actually walked out of the classroom and protest of low wages and low school funding. And that was happening a lot.
We kind of saw that movie we didn’t really follow because there was just so many different teachers that are doing it, which is great because they have their unions and they need to stand up for what they feel. Because it wasn’t just wages, it was like old school funding is low as well. Which actually kind of brings us to the second article that we’re talking about and I mean, it actually didn’t get a chance to read this article, but I’m going to tell her and we will walk through the stages.
Amanda Selogie: You’re going to have to describe by phases and you’ll talk about it.
Vickie Brett: I know. It’s considering a plan, but the education … Obviously the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who we’ve talked about multiple times.
Amanda Selogie: My favourite person.
Vickie Brett: Is considering a plan and it lets states use federal funds to purchase guns for schools. Amanda is like shaking her head.
Amanda Selogie: So-
Vickie Brett: Pressing her lips.
Amanda Selogie: Remember when she said that there’s … Remember when she first started talking about guns in schools because there might be Bears. No, this infuriates me, like just say that there are things like … Because remember she tried to make the argument that there were bears. Remember?
Vickie Brett: Yes, I read a whole article that just happened early-
Amanda Selogie: But then[crosstalk 00:13:31], and then now like we’re, so we’re going to take money that we’re saying these schools.
Vickie Brett: So.
Amanda Selogie: And we’re going to put it towards guns?
Vickie Brett: Yeah. So if you remember we had actually talked about from establishing school safety commission. That was in March, I think we talked about it end of March, early April and it was like to study recommendations and you’re like, “What are we doing?” And she had said, “She wouldn’t like look into the role of firearms.” Like, “What is the role of fire arms in gun violence at schools?” So she said, “I don’t want to look into that.”
Amanda Selogie: Wait what is the role of firearms in-
Vickie Brett: In gun violence in schools?
Amanda Selogie: So the role is that if guns weren’t there. There wouldn’t be mass shootings?
Vickie Brett: Yeah. But if she did that research. Then this wouldn’t make sense. Have the ability to purchase gun. So basically there’s a student support and academic enrichment grant program and it doesn’t specifically prohibit weapons being purchased. And this is sources from the New York Times within this Hill Capital article that I’m referencing.
And so basically that is $1,000,000,000 dollars of student support and it’s intended to fund and it has for the longest time funded the poor schools. And those funds typically go to improving educational curriculum, poor conditions, technology. So it’s just like, “Okay, we’re funding this money to those poor schools so that they can try to improve in certain areas.”
Amanda Selogie: So she ought to take that money and use it to purchase guns.
Vickie Brett: So under school conditions are like the guise of improving school conditions. She would like to allow …. Districts would be like, “I want to use this money to purchase guns.”
Amanda Selogie: So we have schools that classrooms on a 100 degree weather days have no air conditioning and our kids are literally hospitalized for heat stroke and that’s not a condition that needs to be addressed but purchasing guns is? That is absurd.
Vickie Brett: I know. And it’s like we should be looking at evaluating policies, how they relate to school safety, maybe encouraging an increase in mental health counseling. Dropout is always in different states. They’re affected differently. Dropout rate in the school to prison pipeline, these factors … That money I think could better service. I don’t know how purchasing guns has anything to do with that as a school condition. And so-
Amanda Selogie: I’m wrapping my head.
Vickie Brett: I know. And so obviously we’ve had a long.
Amanda Selogie: Kids are dying on buses because there’s no support on buses. They’re getting left in there and 100 degree heat or they’re getting put in harnesses that choke them to death. That is a school condition. That is a condition that needs to be addressed.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. And I mean earlier in the year Congress did pass like a school safety bill and it was supposed to create a new grant program to help educate students and teachers about warning signs for gun violence. And I think Parkline, the Parkline kids and even the Texas shootings. It’s been at the forefront of our minds. And I think that, that’s where congress was like coming from. But I haven’t really heard of how that education is being pushed forward. I’m just seeing these headlines of Devos and wanting to put guns in schools and that is one idea.
Amanda Selogie: The answer to too many guns is more guns.
Vickie Brett: Well, how do you stop a bad guy with a gun, a good guy with a gun?
Amanda Selogie: Well that’s what the NRA would like us to believe.
Vickie Brett: Propaganda and the rhetoric that is being used. But I think … Have always talked about is the mental health issues. And being able to address that. And by the time that you get to high school, I know we’ve seen even reports is as young as, I think it was like a seventh or eighth grade or just a couple months ago.
A teacher had kind of disarmed him. He had a gun that teacher had prevented it and because I was going to say, “Oh, we’ve seen this trend in high schools.” Obviously Sandy Hook was an individual coming to an elementary school and I hope and pray that we never see Mill elementary school.
And not to say that it hasn’t happened. I’m sure that it has obviously what’s been at the forefront of our minds even coming up in October to the Las Vegas shootings. I mean, this last year and last couple of years. I mean, the amount, it’s just like this is the worst shooting in American history, 50 people died.
Amanda Selogie: We keep hearing that phrase and we shouldn’t keep hearing that phrase.
Vickie Brett: Right. And I think with education trying to focus on it. Improving the curriculum and we’ll conditions and technology, those are great and mental health, but I just don’t see how her even considering this is useful to the Redrick.
Amanda Selogie: Do you know how much money the United States Department of Education is probably spending for her to consider this? Because it’s not ever doing any work. It’s not her picking up a finger. It’s probably her having a ton of staff, spent a ton of their time, rather than taking the research that we’ve had for years about why our kids can’t read and try to figure out better interventions on how to reestablish the budgets that are already there. To ensure that these kids are learning to read. We’re spending so much money her … Consider something that we already know is the most absurd idea.
Vickie Brett: And like the house education committee, 17 of the members actually wrote a letter in June and they were like, “Can you please … Like basically demanding an explanation. They’re like, “Can you please tell us why we would not focus on gun violence?” So let’s say if she’s considering this plan, I want states to be able to decide to purchase guns for their schools and God knows how they would even just break that I don’t even know.
Amanda Selogie: You have to get a gun permit with your 50 credential?
Vickie Brett: No. But should we not look at how gun violence plays a role in school. I just think you would have to do the two, but for her to ignore one and then do the other. That’s the logic and that’s the flaw in my, If I’m just being very, if I had no opinion, I’m just looking-
Amanda Selogie: You’ve had time to reason out the best versus me. I’m on fire.
Vickie Brett: But really put your lawyer hat on. And it’s just like if you are actually considering this. How do you not consider gun violence in the role it plays?
Amanda Selogie: Well I don’t know how you already leaped to looking at a solution before we even looked at the problem.
Vickie Brett: I think that’s-
Amanda Selogie: It needs to be considering how gun violence affects schools should be number one. And then if it leads us to maybe we need to protect ourselves more and then that’s the conclusion you draw, which I don’t see how that would be the conclusion. But let’s just say then, “Okay, consider this.” But that’s not even where we’re going. We already know that gun violence actually … I mean more guns does not help other countries have proven that-
Vickie Brett: Trace. And so that’s what… When you’re sitting here and you’re looking at a District in Colorado that is like “Oh, we have to close a day because we can’t afford it.” And they are providing daycare, cause that obviously impacts a lot of parents who work full time and school is a form of daycare that they use. They are going to like charge $30 dollars a student. So I mean who knows how that funding. Is that just covering their costs?
Are they making a little bit more like … How are we to help the end. You think it’s right outside of Denver. How are they so low? But there’s only 18,000 students. It’s probably super rural and some of parts and so that’s why like travel costs. So I just wanted the dichotomy of just like, “Oh, look at what this school district is forced to dealing and then we have a lot of money.
Amanda Selogie: This is what is going to happen, McDonald’s and certain fast food restaurants are taking the employees that would normally take your order. I’m putting those IPads instead and how people say robots are going to start taking their jobs. So now basically what Betsy Devos was saying is that, “Take a salary for a teacher and place it with a gun.” Not a teacher with a gun.
We’re just going to put an automatic gun, we’re going to put a robot with a gun and that’s going to be the … Is that what’s going to happen? Like to me that’s logically what flows from this horrendous idea and I just … I don’t understand. We talk about needing to make changes in our education system and you are the highest person up in our education system and this is what you’re focusing your time on.
Not failing students, not high dropout rates, not the mental health epidemic. I was just telling, actually our trainer was just telling me that the day that he found out that in the first two weeks of school in Rancho Cucamonga, there were four suicides. Four within two weeks. Why are we not talking about that? Why are we not figuring out why? And I think one of them was like a seven year old. Why is this happening?
Vickie Brett: That is so …
Amanda Selogie: So these are the things that I like our education department to focus on. And Betsy, my girl, you’re listening please, please, please do some research.
Vickie Brett: Come on.
Amanda Selogie: I mean look. You have an open invitation. Anytime you want to come to California and come to our small little studio in Garden Grove. I will welcome you.
Vickie Brett: I humbles.
Amanda Selogie: I’ll bring you some nice California tap water.
Vickie Brett: I think so. If you miss this and it kind of goes under the radar obviously, but that’s why we’re here. We kind of are able to read this stuff for you and kind of discuss it. Obviously.
Amanda Selogie: Get amped up.
Vickie Brett: Food for thought and just kind of seeing what other states are doing in so far as dealing with budgets and stuff like that. And it’s also one of those things where … At first it’s shocking kind of went through like, “Okay, we’ll see. We’ll definitely try to monitor.” I hope somebody is doing some sort of research in Colorado on this particular district to see if that is-
Amanda Selogie: Why me? Maybe it has a positive effect.
Vickie Brett: I mean-
Amanda Selogie: I mean who knows.
Vickie Brett: I would love to see it.
Amanda Selogie: I would love to see it too. Or I mean I wonder if any other school districts have done anything like this. If you’re listening in, you’re in a school district that might’ve implemented something like this in recent years.Let us know.
Vickie Brett: And some on a modified day and things like that. We typically see that in high school or the schedule.
Amanda Selogie: Late start days.
Vickie Brett: Late start days, early start. I really think there’s certain teacher days.
Amanda Selogie: Staff development days.
Vickie Brett: Staff development days.
Amanda Selogie: Whatnot.
Vickie Brett: But we’re talking about something super consistent. And if you have any information, just shoot us a message. And if you already aren’t on our Facebook group, you can take it and inclusive in our IEP podcasts or you can go to www.facebook.com/groups/IEP podcasts. So there’s two P’s in their people. It’s IEP and then the word podcast.
We’ve been getting a lot of great conversations starting I think it’s a safe place for a lot of parents and other people to discuss their experiences. That is what it is about. And if you were in the same district and you have a different experience, that is okay. But you cannot take away somebody’s experience because they experienced it.
Not that we haven’t had any issues, but I think that sometimes people forget. So Amanda and I are attorneys in the area of special education law and we try to just talk in general about the experiences that we have had. There are attorneys out there that had been doing special education longer than us and some that had been doing it for a shorter amount of time than us.
Amanda Selogie: And they may have a different opinion from us on certain issues. All issues.
Vickie Brett: And that’s the thing with attorneys, no to family law attorneys could agree on the same course of action for a case. They might in some instances, but reasonable minds can differ.
Amanda Selogie: As well. We often say, “It depends.”
Vickie Brett: It depends. And we’re attorneys. We’re not your attorneys. This had been phrases that we have become very accustomed to talking about. But, we … Food for thought as always, we, again, just hope that you guys take everything that we say with a grain of salt. But if you ever have any further questions, please just reach out.
We get some great educators from different states asking for tips and tricks. Like, “Oh, well where do you get ideas for IEP goals?” And there’s so much information out there and you take it with a grain of salt. There’s a bunch of stuff on Pinterest for example.
Amanda Selogie: Or you know what, if you don’t agree with something that we’re saying, please let us know. I mean, I at times, I mean, you’ve heard Vicky and I disagree on certain things, but for the most all the time. But we also agree on a lot of things and so a lot of times our topics are geared towards what we feel and what our opinions are.
But we’re very open to hearing from other people. If you haven’t experienced it’s different or you have a different perspective, we really would like to share it because that is the point of the group and the Pod to really change that conversation. We’re not trying to be one sided here. We really would love the feedback. So let us know.
Vickie Brett: Let us know. And again, hoping you guys. We see you on Thursday at our little event that we’re going to have a panel discussion or our fourth annual silent auction. It’s going to be a fun time. I know it’s a heavy topic. I know I keep saying that, but I think it’s an important topic and I think that all the panelists are going to do an amazing job of giving their impressions, things that you can look out for.
And if you don’t have a child, the children that are in your life, you can be just as important part of their lives as their parents. So hopefully you guys make it. Will have the drink, will bid on some silent auction stuff. I mean, I know I’m kind of saying this to the end, but we got some sweet trips we haven’t even talked about.
Amanda Selogie: We haven’t.
Vickie Brett: I mean there’s some nice to give them all that. I’m just going to give you that one. But we have some amazing, this amazing donation to Panama or I will just, I don’t know.
Amanda Selogie: I mean you were just shopping.
Vickie Brett: We will tie them up but you can stay for seven days and it’s a beautiful all in. Oh, that’s what it was.
Amanda Selogie: All inclusive resorts.
Vickie Brett: All inclusive resorts. And so we have had thankfully this donation in the past and we’ve had some great feedback from people that have purchased it. So come on out, try to have a good evening. Meet us if you’re VIP or get a chance to meet the panelists. You’ll definitely be able to, with your general admission, meet all of the wonderful sponsors. You’ll get a swag bag. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we hope that we see you guys.
Amanda Selogie: Then in the meantime, have a great rest of your week and we will talk to you later.
Vickie Brett: Bye.
Amanda Selogie: Bye.