You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.
New school shooting database shows 2018 spike
A new database released this week finds that 2018 was a record year for school violence.
The researchers cross-referenced more than 1,300 incident reports from 25 different sources going back nearly 50 years. This K-12 school shooting database tried to capture each and every instance a gun was brandished or a bullet was fired on school property.
So what were the results? In 2018 there were 82 documented incidents and 51 documented deaths. The next highest number of deaths occurred in 1993, with 40, and after that in 2012 with 37 deaths.
One thing to note: there are no clear trends in the database. While 2018 shows a spike, 2011, for example, was near an all-time low.
Hurricane Michael keeps student out of school
As NPR has reported, schools in some parts of North Carolina have been closed for five weeks due to hurricane-related flooding damage. Parts of the state still haven't recovered from Hurricane Florence, which hit a month ago. Teachers now worry that, with Hurricane Michael, students are not getting the meals, and the emotional support, that many may depend on.
Hurricane Michael also closed dozens of school districts in Florida as well as several university campuses.
Harvard lawsuit heads to trial
A federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in Harvard's admissions practices heads to trial on Monday.
The suit was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, which has accused Harvard of using "racial balancing," and treating Asian-American applicants unfairly by systematically rating them lower on intangible traits, like courage, kindness and leadership. The group is led by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, who filed a similar lawsuit for a white student at the University of Texas.
The U.S. Justice Department has also backed the suit.
Education and the November election
The midterm elections are just under a month away, and a new report by the Center for American Progress finds that ballot measures in 15 states (if they are passed) could add almost $2 billion to public education. The center argues that "public education has suffered a punishing decade" and "most states have been slow to return to pre-recession investment levels."
Nonprofits sign letter attacking "online preK"
A coalition of advocacy groups issued a letter on Wednesday urging states not to put public money toward so-called "online preschool" software products created by companies like K12 Inc. and Chalk.
As the letter notes, the state of Utah, "citing the need to serve families in rural areas cheaply, sponsored the first state-funded online program of this kind, called UPSTART, and thousands of families have enrolled." UPSTART has also expanded pilot programs to at least seven other states.
The organization, Waterford, reports academic gains for students who use the software. But critics — like those at Defending the Early Years, and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood— say young children don't learn best in front of a computer. High-quality preschool programs, they say, include a low student-teacher ratio, hands-on play and physical activity.