Wednesday Reading List: A Teacher Narrates Live Shooter Drills and Why Market Accountability is Not a Panacea

K.T. Katzmann, a teacher from Broward Couty, Florida, writes in The Trace about the horrifying truth of what happens during "live shooter" drills in American schools:

In the aftermath of Parkland, teachers across the nation are starting to speak. The experience of being isolated, uninformed, and responsible for the lives of dozens of children is now universal to our profession, whether because of actual emergencies or planned drills. You don’t usually learn which is which until at least an hour and sometimes not until afterwards. In both cases, the struggle to control the dread and keep wearing the mask of bravery for your students is the same. And you need a weapon. I’ve heard of everything from broken chair legs lying around that never seem to be thrown away to metal baseball bats provided by administration. One teacher from another district dealt with it by always keeping a screwdriver on her desk.

If your response to gun violence is suggesting that teachers be armed with more guns, you are not very intelligent. 

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Seriously. If you look at our current milieu, and read the piece above, and still arrive at the conclusion that we need additional firearms to neutralize the situation, you are not processing information in a manner that is logical. You're an ideologue fishing for justification, amidst your own complicity in the murder of children.

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Also, shout out to the dudes who wrote a WHOLE ASS op-ed in the New York Daily News, using the death of a child to make a point about a discipline policy they didn't really like, but still have said nothing about gun violence in schools.

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In other news, The Washington Post is reporting that DC's public schools Chancellor, Antwan Wilson, will step down today:

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, appointed last year with a mandate to close a persistent student achievement gap, was forced to resign Tuesday amid revelations he skirted the city’s competitive lottery system so his daughter could transfer to a high-performing school. The end of Wilson’s one-year, 19-day tenure — announced at a late afternoon news conference by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) — sends another jolt through a beleaguered school system already engulfed in a graduation scandal. He was the second casualty of a crisis that emerged Friday with little warning: Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles was the first to go.

Wilson made a mistake, and one that was particularly ill-advised, given that the city a) had just weathered a very similar enrollment scandal last year, and b) needed an unshakably trustworthy leader in the wake of revelations about inflated high school graduation rates.

That said, I'm worried about churn at the top of the DCPS system. Children and families deserve steady leadership, and one of the reasons that city school systems suffer, is that they cycle through superintendents like disposable napkins. Muriel Bowser, DC's current mayor, is going to face a tough reelection in the fall, and more strong primary opponents are bound to line-up now, given her current vulnerability on education issues. It wouldn't surprise me if DCPS goes from having had a decade of steady leadership from 2007-2017, to having three chancellors over the course of a single year in 2018. Not good.

(NB: I should disclose that Wilson is a personal friend, and someone whose integrity I hold in high esteem. We all make mistakes, and the price of leadership is that our most challenging moments get aired-out in public.)

Finally today, Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report looks at how school choice operates in New Zealand:

New Zealand is a school choice utopia. In 1989, the country passed a set of ambitious education reforms based on the same arguments for school choice that DeVos and others have made here. The “Schools of Tomorrow” laws abolished the concept of neighborhood schools and gave parents total freedom to enroll their children wherever they wanted. Parents in New Zealand said they are generally happy that they have choice and happy with their schools. Yet even though the country’s scores on international exams are above average, they have remained largely unchanged since the tests were first administered in 2000, and the percentage of students who were at least moderately proficient has decreased slightly in recent years.

These results capture my problem with school choice zealotry in the United States. The current scheme of "democratic accountability" for American schools is obviously broken. School boards do a dismal job of policing quality in schools, while states and the federal government can't regulate their way out of paper bags. That said, the idea that parent choice - and the concomitant onset of "market accountability" - will solve those problems, is laughable. New Zealand is good evidence of why, and there's are great data and anecdotes in the piece above.

Have a great day!