Friday Reading List: We Should Stop Letting Children Die in Schools

The staff at Chalkbeat distilled the critical education questions lingering after the school shooting earlier this week:

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead on Wednesday has elicited both terror and anger — and raised debates that are far from settled about how to keep American students safe. Here are a few storylines we noticed as the country again grapples with a tragic school shooting:
1. You’re not wrong to think it: There have been a lot of mass shootings, and many recent ones have been especially deadly. Data on school shootings specifically, though, is notoriously murky ... But by NBC News’ count, 20 people have been killed and more than 30 have been injured in school shootings this year. That’s a lot — and more news organizations are now trying to keep a careful tally.

The only thing you need to know is that there are SO MANY school shootings in this country that we struggle to count them. It SHOULD be a wild, erratic, fucked-up event if we have a school shooting ... but that's not the case in this country, is it? We've totally acquiesced to the reality of gun violence.

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Henry Grabar of Slate thinks that students are the most likely constituency to help us break out of the current morass:

According to an analysis conducted by the Washington Post earlier this month, more than 150,000 Americans have experienced a shooting on campus since Columbine in 1999. After Wednesday’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, you can add 3,000 more kids to that list. Together, America’s school shooting survivors would make up a city the size of Savannah, Georgia or Syracuse, New York. A whole city knowing the trauma of what we still, wrongly, insist on calling the unthinkable ... After 150,000 survivors, a school shooting is normal now, and that normalcy makes it fodder for immediate, serious, political discussion. The kids have figured that out.

If you're looking for something to do today, you could sign the #PoliticizeMyDeath pledge, to join affected students in making sure that none of these tragedies are in vain

Finally this week, Tara García Mathewson of The Hechinger Report takes a hard look at student absenteeism:

In some ways, it’s surprising the problem can be so severe. In the United States children must attend school. It’s the law. And many communities fine parents or guardians for keeping their children out of school without a valid excuse. Students with a number of unexcused absences are called truants. For many years, the attendance focus in Albuquerque Public Schools, and elsewhere, was on reducing truancy, which can be seen as more serious than chronic absenteeism. But researchers have emphasized more recently that it doesn’t matter whether a student has an excused absence or not; missing class puts them at risk of falling behind.

Mathewson's piece looks at a particular program in New Mexico, from which educators can extrapolate interesting lessons for their own practice.

Have a great weekend ...