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.”

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.”

Are active shooter drills worth it?

“These experiences suggest the lockdown drills really did help students and staff respond effectively. Evidence so far suggests children and educators in Uvalde followed their lockdown training well, and it was local police who failed to follow protocol. For now, most experts say if we’re stuck living in a society where school shootings are threats communities must deal with, then schools should plan for drills but be more conscious of how they’re executed, and take steps to mitigate needless harm.”

“Scant high-quality research exists on the mental health risks of lockdown drills, though in 2021, Georgia Tech researchers, in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety, published a study analyzing social media posts before and after the drills in 114 schools across 33 states.
The researchers found the drills associated with increases in depression, stress, anxiety, and physiological health problems for students, teachers, and parents, and suggested leaders rethink schools’ reliance on them. “We provide the first empirical evidence that school shooter drills — in their current, unregulated state — negatively impact the psychological well-being of entire school communities,” the authors wrote.

Other experts say the drills may even be counterproductive, given that most school shooters tend to be current or former students of those schools. The drills might spark “socially contagious” behavior, some critics warn, or deter school leaders from making other proactive safety investments.”

““When we train students, we don’t say this is your only option. If you’re in an open area or by an exit door, your best option is to get out of the building,” she said. “The reason why there’s a heavier focus on the lockdown as an option [and the ‘L’ in Alice stands for lockdown] is because kids remember things in a very linear fashion, and the best thing a student can do is shut the door and get out of the way.””

“Researchers say more high-quality studies are needed to understand the long-term impacts of lockdown drills and to develop more standardized approaches that could minimize risk.”

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.””

Charter Schools Win Support by Offering Education Flexibility

“”Lottery-based studies of urban charter schools consistently show that charters improve students’ academic achievement and some longer-term outcomes, particularly among Black and Latinx students, students with disabilities, and low-performing students,” concludes a 2021 National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Sarah Cohodes and Katharine Parham of Columbia University.”

“”Overall, the big charter networks are seeing college success rates that are anywhere from three to five times the rates for low-income students nationally,” Richard Whitmire wrote for the education publication The 74 in 2017. “The most successful networks are all in the 50 percent range — half of their alumni earn bachelor’s degrees within six years. Nationally, 9 percent of the students from low-income families meet that mark.”

Not every charter school achieves such success, of course. Like any other venture, some charters go off the rails, are run into the ground by poor management, or just fail at their mission. Teachers’ unions, having wandered far from the days of Albert Shanker’s advocacy of charters, are more than happy to point to charter schools that don’t do a good job. But that’s part of the attraction of charters; when they fail, as some institutions inevitably do, it’s easier to close one independently managed school and move its kids to competitors than to shut the doors of a traditional district school that has a near-monopoly on students in a geographic area.”

“In December 2021 polling by EdChoice, 90 percent of charter school parents report being very or somewhat satisfied with their children’s schooling, compared to 78 percent of district school parents (96 percent of private school parents and 88 percent of homeschool parents report being satisfied).”

N.Y. Can’t Teach Kids To Read on $30,000

“In New York, where I live, real per-pupil revenue has increased by a mind-boggling 68 percent between 2002 and 2019. Public schools in the Empire State are now shelling out more than $30,000 per kid. That’s more than double the national average, and it doesn’t even include the $16 billion extra that New York’s system got in combined federal and state COVID-19 relief funding.

Yet New York’s public schools are still as terrible as the Mets, the Jets, and the Giants, with only a third or fewer of students up to grade level in eighth grade reading and math, according to their scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely considered the gold standard for judging school outcomes. Those scores aren’t much different than they were 20 years ago.

In fact, $30,000 a year puts the lie to the argument pushed by unions and progressives that more money will fix schools. More money hasn’t helped the rest of the country boost their scores either. According to NAEP, whatever minor improvements in reading and math that were made for students ages 9 and 13 since the early 1970s have flattened since the early 2000s. We’re paying more for the same results.

None of this is a mystery. The connection between bigger spending and good outcomes is weak at best, whether we’re talking about comparisons among U.S. states or international ones.”

America doesn’t have enough teachers to keep schools open

“Studies in the US and around the world have found that student learning suffered when classes were remote, and many teachers were no fan of the system either, with educators ranking the challenges of virtual instruction among their top pandemic stressors in one recent study. At the same time, some fear that in-person school during omicron may simply become untenable. Sheikh’s school has one nurse for 2,500 students, making it nearly impossible to do any real contact tracing. “There’s no way to contain these Covid cases,” she said.”