Pro-gun rights lawmakers want to arm teachers, but there’s little evidence these programs work

“There is no evidence supporting arguments from pro-gun rights lawmakers that training and equipping teachers with guns will make students safer. A 2019 study by researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University reviewed 18 years of US school security measures — including placing more armed teachers in school — and found no evidence of reduced gun violence.

Denise Gottfredson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, called the policy of arming school personnel “ill-advised.” Beyond substantial research linking gun accessibility and increased gun violence, firearms brought into school by educators “might be fired accidentally, the teachers who carry them might deliberately use them for unintended purposes, and, even more likely, the guns might end up in the hands of students,” Gottfredson told Reuters.”

“The US is not the only country in the world where mass shootings have happened, but it is unique in how frequently these mass shootings occur within its borders.

In his widely-cited 2016 study, Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, analyzed data on global mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 and found that 31 percent of perpetrators in mass shootings worldwide during that time were American.

Adjusting for variables, Lankford also found that a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds of it having mass shootings. When it comes to gun ownership, the US is practically in a league of its own: the US population only makes up less than 5 percent of the global population yet Americans account for about 45 percent of the world’s gun ownership. It is estimated that US civilians own a total of 393 million firearms — meaning there are more guns in civilian hands than people.”

How Anti-Critical Race Theory Bills Are Taking Aim At Teachers

“This spring, a high school English teacher in Missouri lost her job following parents’ complaints that one of her assignments taught critical race theory.

The teacher had assigned a worksheet titled “How Racially Privileged Are You?” as prep material for reading the school-approved book “Dear Martin,” a novel about a Black high school student who is physically assaulted by a white police officer. But despite the teacher’s insistence that she wasn’t teaching her students critical race theory, an academic legal framework that asserts that racism is systemic and embedded in many American institutions, the local school board disagreed and determined that the material was objectionable.

The Missouri incident wasn’t an anomaly. In Tennessee, a teacher was reprimanded — and later fired — after telling his class that white privilege is a “fact” and assigning a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay that argued that white racial resentment was responsible for the rise of former President Donald Trump. Meanwhile in Texas, a principal was suspended after parents accused him of promoting critical race theory based on a letter he had written more than a year earlier, calling for the community to come together and defeat systemic racism in the days following the murder of George Floyd. His contract was subsequently not renewed.

In none of these schools was critical race theory actually being taught, but that is largely beside the point. Rather, these fights make up the latest chapter in the GOP-initiated culture war and are more broadly about how teachers should — and shouldn’t — talk about race and racism in America.

Since January 2021, Republican state legislators have introduced nearly 200 anti-critical race theory bills in 40 states “

The major blind spot in Bill Gates’s pandemic prevention plan

“Over 1 million Americans have now died from Covid-19. It isn’t a random group of people: one preprint paper found that working-class Americans were five times more likely to die from Covid-19 than college-educated Americans. Working-class Hispanic men had a mortality rate 27 times higher than white college-educated women. Another study analyzed Covid-19 mortality rates in over 219 million American adults and found that if racial and ethnic minorities between 25 to 64 years old had faced the same mortality rate as college-educated white Americans, there would have been 89 percent fewer deaths.”

COVID-19 Policies Wrecked Public School Enrollment and Student Outcomes

“After the historic one-year enrollment drop of 2.5 percent in the 2020-21 school year, public K-12 attendance has stubbornly refused to bounce back. Two new studies further indicate that the biggest two-year declines correlate strongly with the most restrictionist school-opening policies, particularly in Democratic-controlled big cities.”

“”The effects of the sharp, recent enrollment declines may be long-lived,” Stanford University Education Professor Thomas Dee told The 74 Million. “The fiscal consequences will remain for some while.”
K-12 spending amounts to around 20 percent of all state and local government spending. If the customer base for this freely offered product continues to reject it in favor of more expensive options, not only will education budgets (which are usually tied to enrollment numbers) get slashed, the political enthusiasm for paying the price tag via taxation will likely wither.

America was a global outlier in the amount of closures and restrictions imposed on public schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in particular played a key institutional role in mixing messages and producing senseless over-caution. Remote learning didn’t just repel students, it consigned the ones who remained to staggering amounts of learning loss. We do not yet understand the full extent of the hit, but what public education decision makers did to public schools the past two years will likely go down as one of the most flagrant and impactful acts of institutional self-harm in the 21st century.”

Biden administration eases student loan forgiveness through income-based repayment plans

“The Biden administration on Tuesday announced changes to federal student loan repayment plans that will make it easier for millions of borrowers to have their debts forgiven after being required to pay for 20 or 25 years.

Education Department officials said they would make a one-time revision to millions of borrower accounts to compensate for what they called longstanding failures of how the agency and its contracted loan servicers managed the income-driven repayment programs. Democrats and consumer groups have been calling on the Biden administration to enact such a policy in recent months.

The income-driven repayment programs are designed to provide loan forgiveness to borrowers who have been making payments tied to their income for at least 20 or 25 years. But few borrowers have successfully received relief under those plans, which Democrats have long promoted as an important safety-net for struggling borrowers.”

“The Education Department said it would make a one-time adjustment to borrower accounts to provide credit toward loan forgiveness under income-driven repayment for any month in which a borrower made a payment. Officials will credit borrowers regardless of whether they were enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan.”

“Department officials said they would credit borrowers for months in which borrowers were in long-term forbearances or any type of deferment before 2013. But borrowers will not receive automatic credit for months in which they were in default or enrolled in shorter-term forbearances or certain types of deferments after 2013.”

“The Education Department said the changes lead to “immediate debt cancellation” for at least 40,000 borrowers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and “several thousand” borrowers under income-based repayment programs.

A further 3.6 million borrowers will receive at least three years of retroactive credit towards loan forgiveness under income-driven repayment. The credit will be automatically applied to borrower accounts, regardless of whether a borrower is currently enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan”

MIT Reinstates Standardized Testing Requirements for Admissions

“the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that it would reinstate its SAT/ACT test requirement for applicants. In a departure from the trends set by other elite universities, MIT rolled back its admissions policy, implemented in the 2020–2021 admissions cycle, which made standardized test scores optional. Administrators cited key issues with “holistic” admissions standards, an increasingly popular method of equitably distributing open spots to students regardless of how well they perform on standardized tests.

In a statement explaining the decision, MIT Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services Stu Schmill noted that MIT’s “research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants, and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT.”

Without an objective measure like a standardized test, low-income students—who may not have equal access to other pieces of the holistic pie, such as a plethora of Advanced Placement (A.P.) classes or numerous extracurriculars—have a harder time proving that they are academically prepared for an MIT education. A move that was intended to increase diversity and help low-income students, as it turns out, mostly helps low-scoring wealthy students—and makes it harder to identify talented yet underprivileged applicants.

MIT now distinguishes itself from other elite universities, a spate of which have removed their SAT and ACT requirements in recent years, primarily citing COVID-19 and diversity-related justifications for the policy change.

The original logic of such policies is based on the idea that SAT and ACT scores correlate strongly with income, which suggests that students from poorer households are denied admission to competitive schools solely because they can’t afford to ace the SATs.

However, omitting standardized test scores makes all applicants reliant on application materials that correlate even more highly with income, such as admissions essays. A 2021 Stanford study found that essays are actually more strongly correlated with household income than SAT scores. Thus, by omitting one income-correlated metric, one that is even more closely related to income takes prominence.

While wealthy parents can pay for test prep, they can’t take a standardized test for their children (well, almost never). However, with essay coaches and college counselors at their disposal, many wealthy students’ college essays can be manicured to fit exactly what schools are looking for.”

Don’t Kick Russian Students Out of the U.S.

“”Frankly, I think…kicking every Russian student out of the United States,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D–Calif.) on CNN last week, should “be on the table.” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D–Ariz.) backed him up, tweeting, “These Russian students are the sons and daughters of the richest Russians. A strong message can be sent by sending them home.”

This is a misguided proposal that will drive a wedge between the U.S. and people who would be well-served by American values. Rather than expelling Russian nationals who are uninvolved in the sins of their government, we should be welcoming them with open arms and encouraging them to engage with our values.

Some 5,000 Russian students were studying at American universities in 2021, according to the Institute of International Education. Demand among young Russians to study abroad has grown steadily over the past several decades. In 2019, roughly 75,000 Russians were attending foreign universities, at least four times higher than the early 2000s level. As of 2015, the U.S. ranked only behind Germany as the top destination for Russian students completing their educations abroad.

Even during the days of the Soviet Union, the U.S. recognized the importance of maintaining cultural exposure. America welcomed “some fifty thousand…scholars and students, scientists and engineers, writers and journalists,” and others from the Soviet Union under exchange programs between 1958 and 1988, per former U.S. diplomat Yale Richmond. Cold War–era exchange programs “fostered changes that prepared the way for [Mikhail] Gorbachev’s glasnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War,” Richmond argued. President Dwight D. Eisenhower even “wanted to bring 10,000 Soviet students to the United States” at one point, according to Richmond.

It’s true that Russians from influential and wealthy families seek out an American education. But to claim that each of the 5,000 Russian students here is rich—and that sending them all home would hit Putin where it hurts—is simply incorrect. And if massive, debilitating sanctions meant to cut Russia off from the global economy haven’t yet convinced Putin to stop his assault on Ukraine, it’s hard to see how expelling Russian students would. “The more likely outcome,” Stuart Anderson of Forbes writes, “would seem to be ruined education plans and sympathetic coverage in Russian state media of young people, it would be argued, who were unfairly targeted by the U.S. government.”

Anderson points out, correctly, that a blanket expulsion policy would harm some Russian students fleeing persecution themselves.”

Educators, Please Stop Teaching the Characteristics of ‘White Supremacy Culture’

“The entire presentation is available online, and it’s just as cringeworthy as its conservative critics expected. Notably, the presenters cite the antiracist educator Tema Okun’s “White Supremacy Culture” a body of dubious work that makes all sorts of unfounded and frankly racist assumptions. Indeed, the presentation includes a slide, “15 Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture”—though the slide only mentions five—that claims possessing a sense of urgency, preferring quantity over quality, wanting things to be written down, perfectionism, and becoming defensive are aspects of white supremacy.

Defensiveness and perfectionism, when taken to excess, can contribute to unpleasant work, school, and social environments. But there is nothing that connects them to whiteness. A boss who sends too many memos may annoy his employees; it doesn’t mean he is a white supremacist, or is propping up whiteness as a construct.

In fact, there’s a danger in ascribing to “white culture” qualities that are, in many cases, positive. Similar work by Judith Katz, another antiracism expert, lists timeliness, planning for the future, self-reliance, being polite, and respect for authority as “aspects and assumptions of white culture.” Timeliness and politeness are good things that have nothing to do with whiteness. Moreover, it would be wrong—and, again, racist—to teach kids of color that if they work hard and plan for their futures, they are betraying their heritage.”

When Is It Safe To Lift School Mask Mandates?

“pediatric hospitalizations are occurring almost exclusively among kids who are not vaccinated. Most school-age children are eligible to have been vaccinated, but most school-age children have not yet been vaccinated. Depending on what numbers you look at, only around 50 to 60 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated, and only around 25 percent of kids ages 5 to 11.”

“today is not the day to remove mask mandates in schools. Rather, you want to wait until case rates are much lower than they are today. Not simply for the sake of kids, but also so that children aren’t bringing the disease home. But governors are up against political pressures.

The important thing to highlight here is that many of the governors who have lifted mask mandates in the last couple of days have said that the mandates will be lifted for schools three or four weeks in the future, not today. And three or four weeks in the future, chances are that case rates will be lower, so by then it actually will be much safer to remove the mask mandates without putting kids and communities at high risk, just because there won’t be a lot of circulating COVID.”

“There are a number of observational studies showing that communities and schools that have universal masking have lower rates of COVID-19 among kids in the school, and a couple of studies suggesting higher rates of transmission within schools that forego masking. And of course, there are many more studies in adults and kids in general — really, the preponderance of evidence supports that masks work, and they work for kids as well as for adults.”

When the CCP Threatens International Students’ Academic Freedom

“China has long been the number one feeder of international students to the U.S.; for the 2020–21 school year, more than 317,000 Chinese students were enrolled at American higher ed institutions. Hong Kong sends about 6,800 students overseas to

American universities each year. Thus, McLaughlin says, the question arose at the start of the pandemic when foreign nationals were temporarily expelled from the U.S.: “Is it safe for them to learn?”
American professors started “try[ing] to find the safest way to teach without censoring themselves,” McLaughlin says. They have taken certain discussion off of certain platforms; started using blind grading and allowing students to not submit papers under their own names; changed some conversations to be one-on-one instead of group discussions where another student could possibly record or disseminate the comments of a student living under Beijing’s thumb. Some professors, like Rory Truex at Princeton, issued warnings in their syllabuses, saying in essence that if a student was currently residing in China, they should wait to take a given class until they’re back on American soil.

Academics elsewhere have stooped to disturbing self-censorship to stave off Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censors. A teaching assistant at the University of Toronto declared he’d been told not to talk about certain issues online because it could put some students at risk; a guest lecturer-journalist from the Hong Kong Free Press declined an already-agreed-to speaking opportunity at the University of Leeds because he had been instructed by hosts to avoid focusing on the Hong Kong protests out of concern for the safety of Chinese students attending the lecture remotely.”

“Professors in Hong Kong, and international students from Hong Kong who study in the U.S. (not to mention their mainland Chinese counterparts), already had to worry about what might happen if a student takes a phone out and films comments made during classes. With the widespread adoption of remote learning, that’s gotten exponentially worse, says McLaughlin. “Whether it’s the intent or not, the effect of forcing everything online makes it a lot easier to hunt down, censor, and punish speech that’s critical of the government.””