• School Safety

    No, We Are Not Facing a Crisis in School Safety

    With a recent report of a potential school shooter in Colorado preceding the two-decade anniversary of the Columbine shooting, public attention is again focused on school safety. After several high-profile school shootings last year, including those at Parkland, FL and Santa Fe, TX, it is easy to believe the narrative that schools face a safety crisis. Indeed, recent data suggest that most Americans see schools as less safe today than two decades ago.

  • School Safety

    How Columbine became a blueprint for school shooters

    Since the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School, we identified six mass shootings and 40 active shooter incidents at elementary, middle or high schools in the United States. Mass shootings are defined by the FBI as an event in which four or more victims died by gunfire. In 20 – or nearly half – of those 46 school shootings, the perpetrator purposely used Columbine as a model.

  • Discipline,  Equity

    The Need to Look at the Entire Disciplinary Code of Conduct and a Visual Way to Do It

    Recently, Dr. Maida Finch of Salisbury University and I released a report in which we distilled each of Maryland's school districts' codes of conduct into a single visualization. Each is color coded to show alignment or misalignment with state recommendations. The visualizations allow for quick comparisons of disciplinary approaches across districts and to state recommendations.

  • Discipline,  School Safety

    School Discipline and Safety Presentations at AEFP

    The Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP)'s annual conference begins tomorrow. Ahead of the conference, I've compiled a listing of sessions and papers that pertain to school discipline and safety, based on a keyword search of the program for terms like "discipline", "suspension", "safety", "crime", and "violence". Let me know if I overlooked any other relevant sessions.

  • Book Review,  School Safety

    Book Review: We Say #NeverAgain – Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists

    Just over a year ago, on February 14th, 2018, the lives of students at Parkland, FL’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were shattered by the violence of a mass school shooting. The Parkland shooting would draw national attention, much as previous events like the tragedies at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary had in years before. And, sadly, it would become a backdrop for a number of other school shootings, including that in Santa Fe, Texas, that would occur before the year was through. The Parkland shooting, however, has emerged as unique for how students responded and engaged after the shooting. Students from Stoneman Douglas High have entered the…

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Testimony in Support of MD HB950

    Below is testimony I submitted in support of MD HB950, a bill set to increase access to school discipline data and to set a more ambitious target for reducing racial disparities in school discipline. The full text of the bill can be found here. Testimony for the House Ways and Means Committee HB 950 – State Department of Education – School Discipline – Data Collection February 28, 2019 Position: Support I write from the perspective of an educational researcher and as a former public school teacher.  I am currently an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the UMBC School of Public Policy where my research has led to presentations and…

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Just what are ‘zero tolerance’ policies – and are they still common in America’s schools?

    When parents and educators discuss school discipline, one of the things that comes up most are “zero tolerance” policies. This term is often misused and misunderstood, according to new research I published recently. Zero tolerance policies are also thought to be widespread. But, my work and a recent report show they are actually less common than frequently thought.

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Restorative practices may not be the solution, but neither are suspensions

    Proponents of restorative justice suffered a blow recently with the late 2018 release of a much anticipated RAND study of restorative practices in Pittsburgh schools. The study’s results showed restorative practices were not as effective as many hoped – or as they are sometimes portrayed by proponents and in the media. Unlike traditional disciplinary approaches, such as suspension, which remove students from school, restorative practices focus on repairing harm done by getting victims and perpetrators together to talk. The idea is to rebuild and restore a sense of dignity and community. As an educational researcher who studies school discipline, I think it would be misguided to use the study as…

  • Discipline,  Equity,  School Safety

    Recommendation to Give Teachers Guns Misses the Mark

    The Federal Commission on School Safety, which was formed in the wake of several high-profile mass school shootings earlier this year, released its final report earlier this month. The report recommends, among other things, that school districts consider increasing the presence of armed school staff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the recommendation has been met with condemnation from both politicians on the left and public commentators. Detractors of the proposal contend that adding more guns to schools is not the solution to preventing violence. That said, the recommendation is not as universally condemned as the media may portray it. A recent poll by PDK suggests that half of the parents of primary and secondary education…

  • School Safety

    Chicago’s Safe Passage program costs a lot, but it may provide students safer routes to school

    While walking to school last month, a 15-year-old Chicago girl was confronted by two masked men in a van with tinted windows in an attempted kidnapping. Fortunately, the girl escaped and ran to a nearby adult. The men drove off. As it turns out, the presence of this adult was more than a fortunate coincidence. For the past decade, Chicago Public Schools has been placing hundreds of adult monitors on streets around schools as part of a program called Safe Passage. Every morning and afternoon, Safe Passage monitors take up position along designated routes near a quarter of Chicago’s schools in neighborhoods with some of the highest rates of crime.…