As USA Today‘s Greg Toppo recently noted, most of our public schools are locked up and require a keycard or for visitors to be buzzed in by someone in the main office–but only after they’ve identified themselves and stated their purpose. They may very well be videotaped at some point, too.
As he indicates, at the time of the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1997, just 19% of our public schools even used security cameras; by the 2013-14 school year, 75% did.
Moreover, from 1999 to 2015, 78% of students said their schools’ doors were locked, up from 38% in 1999, while an earlier survey of responding administrators put that number at 93%.
At the same time, according to the Center for Education Statistics, “the number of crimes against students has actually plummeted more than 80% since 1992,” with 3% of them reported feeling “afraid of attack or harm,” vs. 12% in 1995.
Click the link to read Toppo’s full report.
This in-like-a-lion and out-like-a-lamb month of March starts off on the 2nd with Read Across America Day, followed happily by Daylight Saving Time on the 12th, St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th, and the Spring Equinox on the 20th.
- America reels from the shooting of 17 students and teachers in Florida at the hands of Nikolaus Cruz. In response, the President is calling for the arming of teachers, while the National Youth Day of Action Against Gun Violence is set for April 20.
- The Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of unions’ “fair share” dues collection from non-members who benefit from their bargaining efforts.
- Every state is federally mandated to collect and track students’ personal information from birth or preschool onwards. Be advised: These Student Longitudinal Data Systems are easily shared with vendors, government agencies across states, and so on, all without parental knowledge or consent.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird have been removed from Duluth, MN high schools to protect “the dignity of students” and prevent them from feeling uncomfortable with racial epithets. Duluth is not alone in thinking high schoolers can’t handle such language.
- Philadelphia is considering establishing set-aside places where users can shoot up in public with no repercussions; drugs will be on hand to counteract overdoses.
- U.S. life expectancy has slipped yet again thanks to drug and alcohol use. In 1960, we enjoyed the highest life expectancy in the world, we’re now 1.5 years lower than the 35 OECD countries.
- Scientists have now successfully cloned monkeys, begging the question, “Can humans be far behind?”
- A proposed California bill would make plastic straws illegal unless requested.
And so it goes; well or not? You decide…
Charters and private school vouchers continue taking center stage, along with the Common Core and all the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) state proposals now in the hands of the U.S. Department of Education. At the same time, tech keeps increasing its domination over instruction and our children’s bingeing on social media is, in all-too-many cases, ending in depression and suicide.
And it just keeps going from there:
- Taxpayer-funded Brooklyn College says its students “get triggered” by police on campus and wants them to only use distant, poorly maintained bathrooms. Meanwhile, a petition is now calling for the removal of all police from the campus.
- The Penn State frat boys who gave a pledge at least 18 drinks in less than 90 minutes and then tried to delete the video evidence. In all, 26 now face charges in Tim Piazza’s death.
- At least 45 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania teachers resigned between July and October and more did so since October. The reason: student violence.
- Baltimore teachers protested a lack of discipline in some schools, thus putting them in harm’s way.
- On state tests, 33% of Baltimore’s high schools had NOT ONE student scoring proficient in math, and 6 had just 1% in that range.
- 19 of NYC Mayor DeBlasio’s $582 million Renewal Program’s 28 schools missed their target graduation rates, and saw 6 of them fall.
- Called “digital self-harm,” about 6% of our 12- through 1-year-olds have bullied themselves online; these children are 12 times more likely to have been cyberbullied at some point.
- The U.S. Department of Education is warning parents and teen to carefully consider the data they give to schools, as criminals are threatening to do violence and to do release sensitive school records.
- BrainCo has no invented a headset that measures a student’s brain’s activity an transmits the information instantly to the teacher.
And so it goes…
With thanks to USA Today‘s N’dea Yancey-Bragg:
Indeed, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, about 6% of our kids, 6 through 17, have actually bullied themselves digitally. Says the organization’s co-director, Sameer Hinduja, “It’s a new phenomenon, and this is definitely happening… We have a tendency to demonize the aggressor, but in some cases, maybe one out of 20, the aggressor and the target are the same.”
And sometimes with lethal effect. In the piece, Yancey-Bragg cites the case of 14-year-old Hannah Smith who ultimately hanged herself. 98% of the messages she received she’d sent herself.
Reportedly, “digital self-harm” is seen three times more often in non-heterosexual teens, with cyberbullying victims 12 times more likely to target themselves.
All this at a time when the CDC says that, in 2015, 36% of all teens felt “desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide, up from 32% in 2009.”
A major reason: the rise of social media.
Just as the cost of living and taxes keep going up every year, so does spending on welfare programs. Indeed, citing the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Surveys of State and Local Government Finances, journalist Gabrielle Olya recently reported that spending on public welfare–think Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, medical assistance programs, food stamp administration, child welfare services, etc.–exceeded $609 billion in 2015 alone, with the main reason being the expansion of Medicaid programs.
Whatever your politics, this should give pause–and it certainly has for writers of The Tribune-Democrat, The Associated Press, which did an opinion piece, “Tightening Welfare Rules Is Necessary.” It ends with this:
“…Reforming public assistance as a whole is a good idea.
“Welfare was never meant to become a way of life. It was a way to help the poor until they could transition back into the workforce.
“The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was the latest federal government attempt to encourage the move from welfare to work.
“We don’t begrudge the public assistance that worthy individuals receive, but we do not condone those who cheat the government, and ultimately taxpayers, by receiving more than their share.
“Those unscrupulous individuals are why the system needs to be tightened.”
Have they got a point?
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 37% of black, first-time college students who enrolled in 2011-12 were no longer in school after three years.
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 30% of Hispanic, first-time college students were no longer in school after three years.
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, just 6.8% of public school teachers were black.
- Finds the U.S. Department of Education. minority students are more likely to be taught by inexperience teachers than those with experience in 33 states.
- Says the Institute of Labor Economics, exposure to at least one black teacher in grades 3 to 4 reduces the probability of low-income black male students dropping out of school by almost 40%.
- The U.S. Department says that only 30% of students enrolled in AP classes are black or Latino.
- from Investing in Preschool Programs, on average, early childhood education reduces the kindergarten black-white achievement gap by nearly 50%.
- The Civil Rights Project of UCLA found that, from 2001 to 2011. Latino enrollment increased by 47%.
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, minorities are expected to be a majority of high school graduates.
As Daarel Burnette II reported in the October 26th issue of Education Week, state-issued school report cards are in for a make-over in both appearance and information, and that’s no easy matter. It’s also a concern for those dubious about the merits of data collection. As Burnette explains, “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to visualize in an ‘easily accessible and user-friendly’ way plenty more data points than was required under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), including school-by-school spending, stats on teacher and principal quality, school discipline rates, and preschool, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate offerings–all broken out by more than 10 student subgroups.”
And here’s the kicker: “In all, states will have to shove into its report card an estimated 2,107 data points about its public school system…” Or so predicts the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Daunting, no? How about a waste of time, energy, and lots of money?
- “Nationally, the pro-charter tent is large and unwieldy enough to include education-reform wonks, hedge-fund managers, billionaire philanthropists and politicians from both parties, and Trump’s tapping of DeVos has placed the movement in a complex situation. Despite the policy ignorance displayed in her confirmation hearing, she’s an ally, and one whose influence on the 2018 Trump administration budget is already evident: Amid huge cuts to overall education spending, there’s a $517 million increase in funding for charters and private-school vouchers and an additional $1 billion worth of grants set aside for local districts willing to implement ‘open enrollment’ programs’ (allowing students to attend any area public schools, charters included, and take allotted stated and federal funds with them.)”
- “Eighteen Republican governors sent the Senate’s education committee a letter in strong support of DeVos and what they called her promise to ‘streamline the federal education bureaucracy’ and ‘return authority back to state and local school boards.”
- “But even many charter proponents are troubled by the Michigan model that DeVos has such a crucial role in creating. In a column in Education Week published in March, Greg Richmond, the president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, corrected ‘friends and neighbors’ who assumed he must be happy about the new education secretary, explaining that he rejected a ‘free-market approach to charter schooling’ that ’embraces the principles of choice and autonomy while gutting accountability’ and insisting that ‘true supporters of charter schools will not abide by this co-optation of what it means to be a charter school.’ With DeVos and her ideas ascendant in Washington, Michigan has become a symbol–and, for some, a cautionary tale–of a movement gone astray.”
- Says Bryan Newland, Bay Mills Indian Community board member & tribal judge, “I learned at a relatively young age not to ascribe malice to people as a motivation. I think when she [DeVos] says, ‘I care about having our kids learn,’ I believe that. But, she didn’t go to public school. Her kids didn’t go. My guess is she doesn’t hang out with a lot of people who know what it’s like going to a school with 50 percent people of color. And I haven’t seen evidence that she’s taken the time to learn.”
- “A major victim of the city’s [Detroit] insolvency was its public school system, which had been under state control since 2012. (Six different state-appointed emergency managers have run the district since then.) Plummeting enrollment, legacy costs and financial mismanagement had left the school system with a projected deficit of $10 million. The state’s solution was to ‘charterize’ the entire district: void the teacher’s union contract, fire all employees and turn over control of the schools to a private, for-profit charter operator.”
- “Michigan’s aggressively free-market approach to schools has resulted in one of the most deregulated educational environments in the country, a laboratory in which consumer choice and a shifting landscape of supply and demand (and profit motive, in the case of many charters) were pitched as ways to improve life in the classroom for the state’s 1.5 million public-school students. But a Brookings Institutions analysis done this year of national test scores ranked Michigan last among all states when it came to improvements in student proficiency. And a 2016 analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research organization, found that 70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings. Michigan has the most for-profit charter schools in the country and some of the least state oversight. Even staunch charter advocates have blanched at the Michigan model.”
- “…It’s important to understand that what happened to Michigan’s schools isn’t solely, or even primarily, an education story. Today in Michigan, hundreds of nonprofit public charters have become potential financial assets to outside entities, inevitably complicating their broader social missions.”
- According to the 2016 Education Trust-Midwest report: “In little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. It’s a devastating fall. Indeed, new national assessment data suggest Michigan is witnessing systemic decline across the K-12 spectrum. White, black, brown, higher-income, low-income–it doesn’t matter who they are or where they live…”