Charter schools are public schools — except, apparently, when they aren’t

In a recent Education Week blog post, author and education reformer Sam Chaltain asked a question that, until recently, seemed beyond doubt: Do students in charter schools have First Amendment rights?The answer is in some doubt as a result of a pair of court rulings absolving charter schools of violating the rights of students or employees.Unlike truly private schools, charter schools derive their funding and their legal existence from local school districts (that's where the "charter" comes from). School boards hold life-and-death authority over these schools, and state laws generally require that (unlike truly private schools) they accept all qualified applicants.Charter schools do enjoy a measure of separation from the government because they are statutorily exempted from certain state oversight requirements that apply to traditional public schools.

Supreme Court justices’ papers give some hints about how Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier came to be

Education Week's Mark Walsh, a veteran Supreme Court reporter who deeply understands education law, is just out with a fascinating look behind the scenes at how the high court arrived at the First Amendment legal standard that governs much of the speech taking place in schools (and, increasingly, in colleges).The entire piece is well worth reading, but it's particularly enlightening for the nuggets Walsh was able to unearth from the papers of Justices Byron White, author of the majority opinion in Hazelwood School District v.