Weekly roundup: Drone program takes off, the origins of MLK Day, a closely watched SCOTUS case, and more

With drones becoming increasingly more prevalent in photography, construction, journalism and other career fields, Fullerton College has a program that offers basic and advanced drone-piloting classes, along with courses to show students how the remote-controlled fliers are used in specific fields and the process for securing FAA licenses.

News printAs the Orange County Register reported this week, the program has also been giving an aerial assist to the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach. Drone pilots from the local college are contributing bird’s-eye views to help researchers monitor the behavior of the great whites that share our coastal waters.

“It just shows how we can use (drones) within a study,” said Fullerton College student Emily Viveros. “Yes, you can fly drones, and that is great, but we are implementing it with something that is so cool.”

Fullerton began teaching drone journalism classes a year ago and now offers a full slate of courses. Meanwhile, additional partnerships are in the works, including a potential venture with the Orange County Water District.

And here are some additional stories we’ve been tracking this week:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could have profound ramifications for public education. At issue is a contested provision of the Montana state constitution that prohibits public aid to private schools, including religious institutions. Legal experts say the decision could pave the way for public funding of religious education.
  • Not many know that a persistent group of Oakland high schoolers fought to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a state holiday. Nearly 40 years later, current students from Oakland Tech are honoring the class of 1981 and telling their story with an original play.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated he would like to see more transparency in how districts spend money under the Local Control Funding Formula, which was designed to channel more resources to English learners, foster and homeless youth, and low-income students.
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