A portrait of Jesus that had been hanging in an Ohio high school since 1947 has been taken down due to a federal lawsuit against the display.
The Jackson City School District was being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Freedom from Religion Foundation after a student and two parents, hwo remain anonymous, thought it was unconstitutional to have a portrait promoting religion in a public school.
The district's superintendent, Phil Howard, determined that due to the potential for high litigation costs and the district's insurance company declining to cover them, that the portrait would have to come down. The faculty adviser and two student members of the Christian service club, Hi-Y, which owns the portrait, took it down after Howard ordered its removal.
Howard told reporters:
"At the end of the day, we just couldn't roll the dice with taxpayer money. When you get into these kinds of legal battles, you're not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It's not fair to take those resources from our kids' education."
Hiram Sasser, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, says that the Hi-Y Club could file a counter lawsuit for their right to show the portrait, but it is not clear if the club intends to.
The new May 4 Visitors Center at Kent State University will be dedicated on May 4, 2013. Film director Oliver Stone and PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill will both be on hand to help dedicate it, and will also serve as speakers during the 43rd commemoration of the infamous 1970 shootings.
Laura Davis, director of the May 4 Visitors Center at KSU, said:
"The May 4 Visitors Center brings memory and history together, in order to serve the future. Visitors frequently comment on the power of the exhibit in evoking the past: 'It makes me feel like I was there,' they say. In addition, their comments on the center's response stations affirm that the display offers a powerful reminder of the importance of protecting rights that help preserve a democratic society."
Ifill, who serves as the moderator and managing editor of PBS' "Washington Week" as well as co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, will host a panel discussion titled "Historical Significance of May 4 and the Visitors Center. This will be held on May 4 from 4 to 6pm in the University Auditorium at Cartwright Hall on the KSU campus.
Stone will take to the stage 90 minutes later, from 7:30pm to 9pm, to discuss "History and Memory in Film", and his movies that depict 1960's era events.
It's not yet available, but Ohio University is planning to offer a new scholarship that will allow students to benefit from their older siblings attending the school.
Jessica Steele, Assistant Director for Development at the College of Business, says that students whose older sibling attended or are attending Ohio University will be eligible for the scholarship. Of course there will be some additional requirements beyond just having a sibling that attended the school. The students will also need to be an upperclassman and earn at least a 3.2 GPA.
This morning, the students whose parents still allowed them to cross picket lines and attend school were greeted by teachers standing on the sidewalks outside the schools holding picket signs. Teachers in the Strongsville school district officially began their strike on Monday, and while they were essentially forbidden from talking on camera or with the media, we were able to speak with some high school students who had joined them on the picket line. From what the students describe, it was complete chaos inside the school, with the substitute teachers unable, and some unfit, to handle the students and the situation.
One student said:
"[There were] people everywhere - it was like a meat farm."
Another chimed in saying:
"Yea it was like anarchy, a chicken pit. People crowd surfing from what I understand in the morning through the English hall ways."
Some students obviously stayed home and decided not to cross the picket line, but others came anyways, just to see what it was going to be like. When asked if it was difficult to cross the picket line, one student responded:
"Yea, it was. We drive to school, pulling in we see our teachers. We want to let them know that we're not crossing because we don't support them, we're crossing simply to see what it's like."
Another student added:
"Yea, it's mostly a curiosity thing. They were kind of bragging about how we had a bunch of students here today, but I think it's mostly that the students were just curious about what it was going to be like."
A third student commented:
"It was total anarchy inside. There was no system or any time of authority involved. We were there for 2 or 3 periods and we didn't go to a single class. We didn't have anyone to check us. We just walked around."
We talked with the students about their feelings on the school board and the way that they were treating the teachers. One answered, saying:
"I think that they have their priorities mixed up here right now."
Oberlin College announced early Monday morning that all classes have been cancelled for the day after police received a report that a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit was seen near the vicinity of the Afrikan Heritage House. Instead of classes, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in a variety of events planned for the day in the hopes that the Oberlin College community will come together to take a stand against the hate-related incidents that have been occurring on the college's campus during the past few weeks.
Oberlin College Safety and Security, as well as the Oberlin Police Department, are both investigating this morning's incident, which prompted the college to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities for the day and instead gather for a series of discussions of the issues facing the College and city of Oberlin recently.
The events planned for today include:
12PM | Lord Lounge, Afrikan Heritage House
Teach-in led by Africana Studies Department
2PM | Wilder Bowl
Demonstration of solidarity
3:30PM | Finney Chapel
Community convocation: “We Stand Together” (previously scheduled for Wednesday 3/6 at 12PM)
In a statement issued this morning, the College said:
"When faced with difficult situations, Oberlin has consistently met the challenges and affirmed its commitment to the highest quality of education and the noblest aspirations of its community members. We believe that today’s events—and our ongoing work and discussions—will strengthen Oberlin and will strengthen us all."
The final state report cards for Ohio schools for the 2011-12 school year were not issued until Wednesday due to a state investigation into attendance data irregularities at a handful of school districts, including Cleveland and either other districts. Now that the results are official, Ohio will begin overseeing the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, which earned a rating of "Academic Emergency".
Under Ohio law, a five-person academic distress commission is required to have some control over districts in the state that fail to meet federal standards for four years in a row and that are in "Academic Emergency", which is essentially the state's version of a failing "F" grade on a report card. The law requires state oversight until that district can improve its grade to a "C".
The academic distress commission is charged with helping to form a plan to improve the district, approve its budget and spending, and has the legal authority to remove or reassign administrators. Alternatively, the commission also has the option of hiring a private firm to manage the failing district.
A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education said on Thursday that with the release of the 2011-12 state report cards earlier this week, CMSD now meets criteria for oversight. The state will officially inform the district within a few days.
Unless a contract agreement is reached, teachers from the Strongsville City School District are planning to go on strike. Hundreds of teachers from the district gathered to meet at Strongsville High School on Thursday evening in order to approve a "no confidence" vote against the school board, on the same day that they gave notice to the board that they plan to strike on March 4.
Teachers union president Tracy Linscott said:
“They are asking us within the round of negotiations to make concessions that are not in the best interest of kids, you know, our working conditions are the kids’ learning conditions and we strongly believe that."
But Strongsville superintendent John Krupinski retorts:
"Our proposal really reflects the economic realities and the fiscal and financial difficulties, not only in our geographic area, but throughout the nation."
Neither side would discuss the specific sticking points in the contract negotiations, but noted that working conditions and salaries are a major concern.
Case Western Reserve University has decided to take part in a new trend in higher education, by offering free, online courses. Beginning May 1, two of CWRU's most prominent professors will offer non-credit courses in law and business.
This concept is known as massive open online courses, or MOOCs. This open resource movement began to take off in 2011, with top college and universities around the U.S. now partnering with a range of online providers to offer courses to anyone with an Internet connection.
The courses will operate like regular courses, including video lectures, assignments, tests and electronic discussions. The only thing is, you won't earn college credit for them that can be applied to a traditional degree program.
At 9:03am this morning, Ohio State University officials posted an emergency alert to their website, indicating that a suspicious package had been found at the Gateway part of campus. This has prompted evacuations at various buildings in Gateway.
The warning posted to the site reads:
9:30am, 2/21 Suspicious package at Gateway. Evacuations of various buildings in Gateway are ion progress. Follow all instructions fo Public Safety officials. No additional info available at this time. We will post new info, when avaialable on this page.