March 2, 2018 - Volume 38 Issue 8



The Washington Post (2/28, Balingit, Svrluga) reports that students returned to class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, “two weeks after police say a former student opened fire in the school with an AR-15, killing 14 classmates and three staff members.” The Post, noting that the massacre “brought renewed urgency to the national debate over school safety, with young survivors tearfully calling for changes to gun laws, students walking out of classrooms to protest gun violence, and President Trump urging schools to arm their teachers,” reports “students came back to a place both familiar and surreal, with armed guards, TV trucks and piles of flowers and homemade memorials outside.”

The CBS Evening News (2/28, story 3, 2:25, Daiz) said “the day started with fourth period so students could be reunited with the classmates they were with during the shooting.” The South Florida Sun Sentinel (2/28, Travis, Solomon, Geggis) reported the students “observed 17 seconds of silence in first period, one for each victim,” and “were given goodies, like bagels and cream cheese, and comfort from 40 therapy dogs. And there were hugs all around.” NBC Nightly News (2/28, story 4, 2:30, Sanders) reported “officials say 95 percent of the 3,000-plus students who go to school here showed up today. Fifteen students have told the school principal they don’t think they can ever come back to this school.” The Miami Herald (2/28, Harris) reports “it wasn’t a normal school day,” but “it was a first step.” ABC World News Tonight (2/28, story 3, 2:25, Muir) similarly recounted the “emotional return to school...for the students in Parkland,” while the New York Times (2/28, Healy, Subscription Publication), among other new outlets, also reports the story.

USA Today (2/28, Collins, Carloni, Stanglin) reports students “were greeted by grief counselors, therapy dogs, an outpouring of support from teachers — and about 50 heavily armed police officers.” Superintendent Robert Runcie said “the counselors and friendly animals were there ‘to provide a lot of love, a lot of understanding’ and to help students ‘ease back’ into their school routines.” The article details the “emotional — almost surreal — moment for students, staff, police, parents and teachers,” and reports Runcie “said 3,123 students showed up, only about 170 fewer than on a normal day, for an attendance of 95%.”

President Trump yesterday appeared to support legislation opposed by the NRA and GOP leaders. His comments came at a televised White House meeting with 17 lawmakers. As the New York Times (2/28, Shear, Subscription Publication) reports, Trump “appeared to stun giddy Democrats and stone-faced Republicans by calling for comprehensive gun control that would expand background checks, keep guns from the mentally ill, secure schools and restrict gun sales from some young adults.” Trump “repeatedly suggested that the dynamics had changed, in part because of his leadership in the White House, a sentiment that the Democrats in the room readily agreed with as they saw the president supporting their ideas.” Roll Call (2/28, McKinless) reports Trump “told lawmakers if they combine their various gun-related measures into a bill in the ballpark of the ideas he endorsed on Wednesday, he ‘will sign it.’”

The South Florida Sun Sentinel (2/28, Man) reports “the latest poll of Florida voters, released Wednesday, shows a broad consensus in favor of stricter gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons, and opposition to arming teachers.” In effect, the poll “found some of what most Florida voters want [is] the opposite of what the Florida Legislature is working on.”

The Miami Herald (2/28, Vassolo, Smiley) reports a Quinnipiac survey “found that 62 percent of voters favor a ban on assault weapons, and about two-thirds support ‘stricter gun laws,’ like universal background checks or a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, while 56 percent oppose arming faculty members.” Those “results closely mirror those from a separate poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economic Polling Initiative and also released Wednesday.” That poll found “nearly 70 percent of people in the state want to see a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons and support stricter gun laws.” The FAU survey, says Politico (2/28, Caputo), also found “56 percent of voters opposed arming teachers.” 

The Baltimore Sun (2/28, Cox) reports that Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who faces reelection this fall, “announced support for a pair of gun-control measures on Wednesday and proposed spending $125 million to enhance security at schools in the wake of a mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida high school.” Hogan “endorsed creating a so-called ‘red flag’ law that would allow judges to temporarily order gun owners to surrender firearms if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.” He “said he also supports a measure that would ensure gun owners convicted of domestic violence surrender their weapons.” The Sun adds, “The $125 million possible expense for securing public schools in Maryland would include reinforced doors and panic buttons to prevent and react to shooters.”  

. The Washington Post (2/28, Strauss) reports, “American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, telling him that teachers oppose his proposal to give them weapons to carry in the classroom and asking him to meet with teacher union leaders to discuss how to keep schools safer.” The Post reports the White House has yet to reply to the letter.

Education Week (2/28) reports on some of the hurdles to a policy of large numbers of teachers carrying weapons in the classroom. The article points to Utah and Texas, which both allow teachers who meet certain restrictions to carry guns on campus, and explores the legislative challenges other states would face in crafting such policies. The article also examines the costs involved and the need for initial and ongoing training. 

Curricula / STEM

Wyoming Public Radio (2/28, Watson) reports both the Wyoming House and Senate have approved bills to “require districts to offer computer science courses.” Dicky Shanor, Chief of Staff for the Wyoming Department of Education, “said the Senate’s version of the bill is stronger because it treats computer science has a stand-alone knowledge area, where as the House places it under career and technical education.”

The San Antonio Express-News (3/1, Caruba) reports Texas Instruments has conducted “robot coding workshops” at 11 schools in San Antonio reaching “at least 1,200” students. The workshops teach “students how to use the firm’s calculators to program the movements of the TI-Innovator Rover, an educational robot it also makes.” Judson ISD STEM coordinator Deborah Rice “said the workshop gave students an opportunity to practice their problem solving and math skills in an entertaining, hands-on setting.”


Some 43 states have now added measures that go beyond test scores—such as chronic absences, discipline rates and course offerings—to offer a wider view of how a school is performing and what programs are available to students.(District Administration, Feb. 23)

Related Education Commission of the States Resource: 50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability Systems

Education Week (2/28, Iasevoli) reports on a study issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality finding that “too few states are using data to determine if their supply of teachers is meeting the demand of school districts.” While “29 states track the number of teacher-prep graduates and their certification fields,” just “eight states compare those numbers against their local districts’ hiring stats.” The study identifies Maryland, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Tennessee as having “promising practices.” The study also “suggests states could do more to increase their pool of teachers in hard-to-staff areas.”

Pay stubs of first-generation students match those of wealthier peers.(Hechinger Report, Feb. 26)

A new study identifies the gaps between graduates' views of their skills and the views of those who hire them. (Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 23)

A new study from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness has found that an increasing number of public, two-year colleges are using multiple measurements beyond standardized tests to place students in college-level math and reading courses. (Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 28)

U.S. News & World Report (2/27) reports The Education Trust released a report Tuesday that “shine[s] a spotlight on funding gaps that plague the country’s public education system.” While those funding gaps “vary significantly” from state to state, the poorest districts in more than half of states “do not receive funding to address their students’ increased needs,” with Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Alabama ranked “among the worst.” The “silver lining,” however, “is that the situation seems to be improving, albeit slightly,” according to The Education Trust’s previous examination in 2015. The trend could even “continue given the number of states rethinking their school funding formulas in an attempt to make their education finance systems more equitable, especially for school districts that serve lots of students in need of extra supports, such as poor students, students with disabilities and those learning English.”

As Mississippi lawmakers consider adopting a weighted student formula to replace the state’s current way of funding schools, 28 other states are already using a similar model. (Mississippi Today, Feb. 23)

Related Education Commission of the States Resource: School Funding Is Complicated — So Let’s Do Something About It

Offering programs that better fit early educators’ schedules, allowing flexibility in completing practicum requirements, and integrating remedial education with credit-bearing coursework are a few of the ways community colleges are helping early educators gain greater access to postsecondary education opportunities, according to a new report from Bellwether Education Partners. (Education Dive, Feb. 22)

Related Education Commission of the States Resource: Initiatives From Preschool to Third Grade


The Washington Times(2/27, Boyer) reports that “despite the horror of the high school massacre in Florida, US schools overall are safer today than they were in the early 1990s, and there is not an epidemic of such shootings, a new academic study is reporting.” According to “researchers at Northeastern University...mass school shootings are extremely rare,” and “shootings involving students have been declining since the 1990s.” Back then, say the researchers, “four times as many children were killed in schools.” The Times adds “the researchers used data collected by USA Today, the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, Congressional Research Service, Gun Violence Archive, Stanford Geospatial Center and Stanford Libraries, Mother Jones, Everytown for Gun Safety, and a New York City Police Department report on active shooters.”

In a piece for U.S. News & World Report (2/27), Ulrich Boser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, writes that “a growing body of research shows that schools can prevent bullying” by “helping students develop social-emotional skills.” However, this “can be challenging for some schools. For one, school leaders are under significant pressure to improve academic progress, and so many schools neglect the social and emotional side of learning. Plus, social-emotional skills may seem a little vague, and so educators do not get much guidance on what to teach or even how to teach it.”