February 15, 2018 - Volume 38 Issue 6



A deadly shooting at a Florida high school dominated coverage over the past news cycle, with stories leading all three network news broadcasts for a combined total time of over thirty minutes. Major papers and wire services also carried coverage of the shooting, of calls for better approaches to ending school shootings, and of the rising prevalence of such attacks in recent years.

The three broadcast networks devoted the bulk of their newscasts to the shooting, which has so far resulted in 17 deaths and left 15 others injured. ABC World News Tonight (2/14, lead story, 4:40, Muir) reported, “These images now emerging: inside the school, students hiding from the gunfire; armed SWAT teams entering, going classroom to classroom. ... At this hour, a suspect is in custody,” a former student named Nikolas Cruz. ABC’s Victor Oquendo: “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School turned into a war zone in seconds. Just after 2:00 p.m., as students were leaving school for the day, a shooter opening fire inside.” On the CBS Evening News (2/14, lead story, 3:40, Glor), Manuel Bojorquez reported, “The gunman appears to have pulled the school’s fire alarm to create chaos, and then began firing. Those who could, ran, hiding in classrooms, even closets, while the shooting continued. Just as the school day was ending, the shooting started. ... The sheriff says the alleged gunman was captured off campus. He was seen surrounded by police, being placed into custody.”

On NBC Nightly News (2/14, lead story, 3:00, Holt), Tammy Leitner reported on “teens streaming out of the building single file, hands in the air, images reminiscent of Columbine and many other shootings. Officials calling it a mass casualty incident.” ABC World News Tonight (2/14, story 3, 1:55, Muir) and the CBS Evening News (2/14, story 2, 1:40, Glor) also interviewed eyewitnesses.

The Miami Herald (2/14) reports, “An American nightmare unfolded” at the school “after an expelled teenager returned to campus and opened fire with an assault the worst school shooting in Florida history.” Authorities say that 19-year-old Cruz “walked the halls of the high school wielding an AR-15 and multiple magazines. ... Police say Cruz, known to other students as a loner obsessed with weapons, shot his way onto campus,” and later “managed to slip in with his former classmates and make it off campus before he was taken into custody.” The New York Times (2/14, Burch, Mazzei, Subscription Publication) reports that according to Sen. Bill Nelson, Cruz was well-prepared. After being briefed by the FBI, Nelson said in an interview, “The shooter wore a gas mask, had smoke grenades, and he set off the fire alarm so the kids would come out of the classrooms.”

The AP (2/15, Spencer, Kennedy) reports, “Authorities offered no immediate details...or any possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has about 3,000 students.” USA Today (2/14, James, Bohatch) reports that according to one teacher, Cruz “had previously attracted so much concern that school administrators banned him from campus.” His “former classmates say he had a hot temper and a history of making dark, gun-related jokes.” Reuters (2/14, Woodall) reports that as a freshman, Cruz had been part of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp program at the school.

The Washington Post (2/14, Balingit, Larimer) reports that an Instagram account that appeared to belong to Cruz “showed several photos of guns. One appeared to show a gun’s holographic laser sight pointed at a neighborhood street. A second showed at least six rifles and handguns laid out on a bed with the caption ‘arsenal.’ ... One of the most disturbing appeared to show a dead frog’s bloodied corpse.” Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt told NBC Nightly News (2/14, story 3, 1:45, Holt), “Any time we see a shooter like this, there are always pre-incident indicators. They either tell someone [or] they write about it on the Internet or some social network page. We never see an individual just totally act out of the dark.”

The New York Times (2/14, Haag, Kovaleski, Subscription Publication) reports that Cruz “was enrolled at another Broward County school, officials said.” Those who knew him “described him as a ‘troubled kid’ who enjoyed showing off his firearms and whose mother would resort to calling the police to have them come to their home to try to talk some sense into him.” One student told a local television station, “A lot of people were saying that it would be him. They would say he would be the one to shoot up the school.”

The Wall Street Journal (2/14, Kamp, Calvert, Subscription Publication) reports that the incident was the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012, and the third-deadliest school shooting in modern US history, after Sandy Hook and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. It was the sixth high school shooting so far this year that resulted in injury or death, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Kristen Dahlgren reported on NBC Nightly News (2/14, story 4, 1:55, Holt) that according to the group, “this is the 18th time a gun was fired on school grounds this year.” On ABC World News Tonight (2/14, story 4, 1:50, Muir), Pierre Thomas reported that the US has been “averaging more than 300 mass shootings in [each of] the last three years.” Business Insider (2/14) also reports.

Trump Offers “Prayers And Condolences” To Florida Shooting Victims. President Trump commented on the Wednesday afternoon mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Twitter, as did the First Lady. The CBS Evening News (2/14, story 3, 0:30, Glor) reported, “The President wrote, ‘My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.’ The First Lady, who spent part of the day with young hospital patients in Maryland, wrote, ‘My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers.’”

ABC World News Tonight (2/14, story 7, 0:55, Muir) reported, “Since taking office, President Trump has addressed the nation three times after mass shootings, something his predecessors had to do.” ABC’s Cecilia Vega: “There’s been a theme in many of President Trump’s remarks. After the shooting in Texas, he said it would be a little too soon to talk about gun laws. After the massacre in Las Vegas, he said, we will talk about gun laws as time goes on. There has not been a very serious public policy conversation about gun control here at this Administration, in this White House.”

Politico (2/14, Lima) reports that the White House said Wednesday afternoon that the President “was monitoring the situation.” CNN (2/14, Malloy) reports on its website that Trump was briefed by DHS Secretary Nielsen, and “spoke to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and offered federal assistance if needed.” The Washington Times (2/14, Boyer) reports that the President “offered federal assistance and the FBI was helping in the investigation. The bureau quickly set up a website for those at the school to upload images or videos they may have taken.” The Hill (2/14, Anapol) reports that the regular White House news briefing was canceled due to the shooting.

Congressional Democrats Decry Legislative Inaction On School Shootings. The Hill (2/14, Carter) reports Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said “such shootings occur in the U.S. ‘as a consequence of our inaction’ on gun violence.” The Hill quotes Murphy saying on the Senate floor, “This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America — this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”

Newsweek (2/14, Valencia) reports Murphy “took the Senate floor on Wednesday to rebuke his colleagues,” adding that he “originally intended to address the Senate on immigration matters, but he decided to chide his colleagues for not doing enough to enact stronger gun laws.” The article notes that Murphy “dealt with the Sandy Hook massacre almost six years ago.”

Business Insider (2/14) reports Murphy “called out Congress for not doing enough to prevent mass shootings,” and “lashed out at lawmakers on the Senate floor Wednesday as authorities were still investigating the scene of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.” Murphy, this article says, “has long been a staunch supporter of gun control measures. He was a congressman representing Connecticut’s 5th district when 20 children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.”

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post (2/14) reports former Rep. Gabby Giffords “begged for politicians to take action on the ‘gun violence epidemic’ in the wake of the Florida school shooting on Wednesday, calling on voters, in an emotional tweet storm, to act to force change.” Giffords, who “was shot in the head in an assassination attempt” in 2011, “posted a series of tweets calling for politicians to reform America’s gun laws.”

The Hill (2/14, Greenwood) reports Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez “called for lawmakers to address the rash of school shootings that has long roiled the country, following the latest incident at a Florida high school.” The Hill quotes Perez saying, “We have seen these atrocities too many times before. This is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not inevitable. It’s long past time for our leaders to stop pretending we are helpless in the face of such tragedy.”

Reports Track Recent History Of School Shootings. An analysis in the Washington Post (2/14, Bump) reports that though reports that “there have been 18 school shootings in the United States this year” are inaccurate because this statistic “includes any discharge of a firearm at a school — including accidents — as a ‘shooting,’” there have nevertheless been “at least seven school shootings in 2018 — more than one each week.” Since 2000, there have been over 130 “shootings at elementary, middle and high schools, and 58 others at colleges and universities.”

The Los Angeles Times (2/14, Lee) reports that the Florida massacre was the second deadly school shooting this year, saying that while “there have been shootings at schools since the 1800s...the current trend appears to have started in the 1990s.” USA Today (2/14, Miller) reports that “in just 45 days, there have already been at least six school shootings in 2018 that have wounded or killed students in the United States.”

TIME (2/14) reports that according to the group Everytown for Gun Safety, Wednesday’s attack “was the 18th school shooting of 2018 — a year that’s not even two months old.” While most “did not result in any fatalities or injuries, schools nationwide have been rocked by gun violence in recent days.”

The AP (2/14) runs a sidebar presenting thumbnail sketches of US school shootings dating back to 1997.

Curricula / STEM

The Las Vegas Review-Journal(2/13, Martin) reports the Nevada Assembly passed “a combination of bills” Tuesday “to encourage young girls to explore careers in computer science – and push early childhood learning in science, technology, engineering and math.” 

Alabama Live (2/12) reports that Alabama’s Winfield City Schools is the first district in the worls “to have every school attain STEM certification through the worldwide AdvancEd accreditation agency.” To earn the designation, “a school has to demonstrate that it uses STEM strategies across classes and throughout the school, meeting the standards AdvancEd requires.”

The AP(2/12, O'Connell) reports that although “public schools have come a long way in trying to incorporate the full breadth and significance of the African-American experience in their U.S. history curriculum,” many educators, students, and “education officials agree: There’s still more to be done.” A “long-awaited update” to Massachusetts’ history and social science curriculum framework is “on the horizon,” and “initial feedback from school administrators and teachers” indicates that “the new standards appear to be more inclusive of African-American history.” However, the AP points to remaining “obstacles,” reporting that “a lack of professional development opportunities for teachers, limited funding to hire more humanities instructors, and competing curricular priorities all play a role in restricting just how deep history classes are able to get into the subject, experts said.”

THE Journal (2/12, Schaffhauser) reports a study published in the International Journal of Science Education found that Oregon and Georgia “middle schoolers did better with science lessons when they could learn online, watching videos, playing educational games, running virtual experiments and collaborating with classmates. Under-achievers did especially well, with access to pop-up vocabulary definitions, interactive diagrams, digital note-taking, watching videos with captions and access to text-to-speech that allowed them to hear information read aloud to them.” The researchers found that “students with learning disabilities in the treatment group improved 18 percentage points on assessments of science knowledge from pre-test to post-test; and English language learners increased 15 percentage points. Learners in the control group who were taught using the traditional methods showed just five points of gain.”

The AP (2/11) reports Fairport Harbor Schools in Ohio “applied for a state education-innovation grant to build a program around designing, making and selling lures” with a 3-D printer. The result – the Hooked on Education program – has “leveraged community traditions in the single-square-mile fishing port for an intensely localized version of personalized learning, which is centered on the interests and needs of each child.” The approach “has received praise from across the political spectrum, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and significant philanthropic support from the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.” Fairport Harbor’s “Hooked on Learning highlights the importance of making school engaging, regardless of whether teachers use personalized learning, said state Superintendent Paolo DeMaria.” The district “has more than doubled the students and teachers in the program for its second year,” and its “eventual goal is to make lures in bulk more efficiently than with a 3-D printer, with plans to sell them and perhaps reinvest any profits in the program.”

The AP (2/11, Rogers) reports that after Montana Public Radio host Brian Khan heard Pope “Francis speak in a 2013 interview about distressingly high unemployment among teenagers and 20-somethings and the growing isolation of the elderly,” he wondered what the community could do to prevent society from “throwing kids away.” Along with “a large group of lawmakers, thinkers, educational experts and business leaders,” Khan developed “American Jobs for American Youth: A Montana Proposal to the Nation.” The plan not only “focuses specifically on helping teens acquire the skills that are vital for a future workforce,” but also aims to “help Montana develop and keep a skilled workforce in the state, rather than losing Montana graduates to jobs in other parts of the country, Kahn said.” An early childhood education component calls for “universal access to preschool and community-based parent counseling programs.” Addressing “Pope Francis’ other concern,” the proposal also “calls for a mentor program that would connect youth with the elderly.”

The AP(2/10) reports Roosevelt High School teacher Nathan Hofflander launched “the Flight Club during the 2016-17 school year when he realized his personal interest in drones could bring a new learning tool to his classroom, especially with increasing push for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning in education.” Hofflander believes Roosevelt is the only high school in South Dakota “currently using drones in education, but he’s doing everything he can to make the technology accessible to other schools.” Hofflander “purchased a handful of drones after a successful crowdfunding campaign on DonorsChoose.orgin the fall of 2016, and the following spring, he received a grant from the Sioux Falls Education Foundation to purchase even more.” The high school now boasts a fleet of 12 drones. Flight Club students “aren’t necessarily the same students taking Hofflander’s computer science or programming classes, but for those involved in both, drones are one way to see practical ways to use what they’re learning.”

The North Jersey (NJ) Media Group(2/11) reports that the New Jersey Schools Development Authority has “agreed to provide $2.2 million worth of electronic devices for students who attend the new middle school being built on Union Avenue at the former Don Bosco Tech site.” Development authority executive director Charles McKenna “said the state will decide what type of electronic devices to purchase for the Union Avenue students depending on the technology in use three years from now, when the school opens.”

The AP(2/12, Nakashima) reports that at last month’s CES electronics show in Las Vegas, there were a number of demonstrations of robots intended to teach coding skills to children. “One convention hall area was packed with everything from chip-embedded, alphabet-like coding blocks to turtle-like tanks that draw on command.” The piece muses briefly on the value of coding skills in students before providing a quick thumbnail of four coding robots on display at CES.


The New York Post(2/14, Passy) says new data from the US Census Bureau “compiled by career website Zippia” show that by 2015, “fewer than one in 10 Americans pursuing higher education devoted their studies to education,” a decline from 22 percent in 1975. A 2017 study from researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles also showed that “only 4.6 percent of college freshmen planned to major in education, down from 10 percent in the 1970s.” The article discusses the problem of teacher shortages and how schools are dealing with it.

A new NASBE report argues that good student data privacy policies recognize the potential for personalized learning to accelerate student achievement while also guaranteeing safe, secure access to a predetermined, transparent set of student data. To advance personalized learning, state policymakers need to develop laws and policies that avoid key pitfalls that can hamper the efficient, effective use of data by school leaders, teachers, parents, and students. The report, “ link:

Advancing Personalized Learning through Effective Use and Protection of Student Data,” recommends actions state boards can take to foster personalized learning and data protection.

The Hill(2/13, Wilson) reports on the various efforts to combat the “skills gap” in the US workforce, writing that “economists, demographers and political leaders are increasingly concerned that the next generation of workers won’t be ready to fill millions of new jobs across the country.” It adds that “the combination of a generational sea change in the workforce and a technological revolution in the economy is conspiring to create a skills gap that could leave jobs unfilled.” Several manufacturers and industry experts are cited in the article. A December 2017 Brookings Institution report found that “about 108 million workers hold jobs that require moderate or high digital knowledge,” adding that “jobs are increasingly likely to require higher levels of technical knowledge.” Brookings Metropolitan Program Director of Policy Mark Muro said, “There’s this broad need for more digital experience, whether it be a full-time high-end IT worker or to simply carry on in the rest of the economy.” In addition, Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute, said that “retirements and new growth mean 3.5 million new manufacturing jobs will need to be filled by 2025,” and, “if present trends hold, as many as 2 million of those jobs are expected to go unfilled.” Lee is quoted adding, “We are definitely not producing enough workers to fill those jobs.”


The AP(2/10) profiles 17-year-old Capital High School senior Alex McMillian. McMillian, enrolled in the West Virginia school’s two-year engineering course, “3-D printed a prosthetic hand for 11-year-old Evan Hines, a fifth-grader at Ruffner Elementary School” who “was born without fingers and most of his palm on his left arm.” The two students met through Ruffner’s “Good News Club” and “bonded over their love of ‘Star Wars.’” As such, McMillian modeled the “robotic-looking hand, painted gold and complete with wires,” after the android character C-3PO. During his research on prosthetic hands, McMillian “came across e-NABLE, a web-based community of volunteers that uses 3-D printers to create free prosthetic hands for those in need.” E-NABLE estimates that “its devices are the equivalent of a prosthesis that would cost up to $8,000.” By using his school’s printer and materials and an e-NABLE template, however, McMillian “only spent money on fabric fastener, screws, fishing wire and elastic to help it function.”