Friday Reading List: Special Education and Keeping Guns Out of Schools

Jackie Mader at The Hechinger Report looks at whether teacher preparation programs adequately arm teachers to reach students with special needs:

Many teacher education programs offer just one class about students with disabilities to their general education teachers, “Special Ed 101,” as it’s called at one New Jersey college. It’s not enough to equip teachers for a roomful of children who can range from the gifted to students who read far below grade level due to a learning disability. A study in 2007 found that general education teachers in a teacher preparation program reported taking an average of 1.5 courses focusing on inclusion or special education, compared to about 11 courses for special education teachers. Educators say little has changed since then. A 2009 study concluded that no one explicitly shows teachers how to teach to “different needs.” Because of time constraints, the many academic standards that must be taught, and a lack of support, “teachers are not only hesitant to implement individualized instruction, but they do not even know how to do so,” the report stated.

To some extent, "special education" is just great teaching. Teachers need to adjust instruction to meet the needs of students, and preparing teachers to better address the needs of children with disabilities will have nothing but upside for those children, not to mention the vast majority of kids who would benefit from some sort of differentiation.

Meanwhile, Evie Blad at Education Week watches a terrifying trend:

Abbey Clements could hear the sounds of the nation's deadliest K-12 school shooting as she huddled with her 2nd graders singing Christmas carols to drown out the terrifying noises coming from down the hall. Gunman Adam Lanza had turned left after he entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that day. If he had turned right, he may have ended up in Clements' classroom ... Clements is among a growing number of educators—some of them survivors of school shootings—speaking out about gun laws on the state and national level. The interest has grown strong enough that Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that advocates for tougher gun laws, plans to launch Educators Demand Action, a campaign to help coordinate their efforts. Educators, including Clements, have long been involved with the organization's work. They feel a special sense of urgency this year as they watch to see if President Donald Trump, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, will follow through on a campaign promise to push for ending federal gun-free school zones that he once referred to as "bait" for a "sicko" who may attack a school. The federal law prohibits carrying or discharging guns within 1,000 feet of public or private school grounds unless a person is specifically authorized to do so by a state.

There are so few bright lines in policy and politics. Mostly there are ambiguous hues of gray. This issues is simple, though. There. Should. Not. Be. Guns. In. Schools.

Finally, Monique Judge of The Root looks at a different series of laws that is gaining traction nationally:

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 32 bills introduced in 14 states proposing that members of law enforcement be included in hate crime protections, the same type of protections granted to people of color, religious minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community, according to an analysis of state legislatures. Huffington Post, which conducted the analysis, says that “the wave of legislation, which classifies violent attacks on police as hate crimes, exposes an appetite to provide political sanctuary to an already protected class.” Louisiana was the first state to pass a “Blue Lives Matter” bill last year, and they were followed by Mississippi, whose state senate advanced a similar bill on Jan. 26, and the Kentucky House of Representatives pushed forward its own version on Feb. 13.

Your daily reminder: "blue" is not a racial identity! Policing obviously is dangerous work, but being a law enforcement officer is a career choice, and one that carries signifiant legal protections ... for example, seemingly, the right to kill people with impunity. If there's anything we DON'T need right now is to make it even more difficult to hold police officers accountable for violent behavior. Have a nice weekend ...