Education Week - August 29, 2018 - 1

Education Week
VOL. 38, NO. 2 * AUGUST 29, 2018

AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2018 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 6 


Fury Erupts as DeVos Weighs Use of Federal Funds to Buy Guns
By Andrew Ujifusa and Evie Blad
News that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
is considering whether to let school districts use federal money to buy guns set off a cascade of anger from
lawmakers and others, and put the polarizing issue of
arming teachers back at the center of the debate over
school safety.
At the request of Texas officials, DeVos and her staff
are considering an idea that a grant program under the
Every Student Succeeds Act could be used by school
districts to pay for firearms and firearms training for
school-based staff.
The Student Support and Academic Enrichment
Grants, established when Congress passed ESSA in
2015, is a $1.1 billion program for districts to spend on

student wellness and health, education technology, and
a variety of other priorities. It can also be used to cover
costs related to student safety. The statutory language
governing the grants does not prohibit using the money
for firearms.
The idea that DeVos would back plans to use
these grants for guns, first reported by the New
York Times last week, has been "blown way out of
proportion," according to Liz Hill, the spokeswoman
for the U.S. Department of Education.
A Trump administration official said the potential use of the money did not originate with DeVos,
but with Texas education officials who inquired in
a letter to DeVos' department about whether districts could use the support and enrichment grants
to purchase firearms.


A spokeswoman for the Texas education department
Schools Turn to Tip Lines
said officials there had simply passed along questions
from districts in the wake of the mass shooting in ParkThe Federal Commission on
land, Fla., about whether certain expenditures could be
School Safety
covered by Title IV grants, including guns.
Janet Robinson, who was superintendent of the Newtown, Conn., schools at the time of the Sandy Hook massacre, said giving guns to school staff is not the answer.
"The government is not giving us enough money for
social-emotional learning and equity," said Robinson,
who is now superintendent of the Stratford schools in
Connecticut. "And we're going to waste money now on a
danger we're inserting into the classroom?"
The proposal was roundly condemned by Democrats on Capitol Hill and a broad swath of the eduPAGE 12 >

Ahead for
Puerto Rico

PAGE 6 >

By Mark Walsh

It has been five years this week since the teacher-preparation
landscape was shaken up with the adoption of standards for accreditation that focused on evidence and outcomes, and teachertraining programs are still feeling the ripple effects.
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation,
which was created by a 2010 merger between two national accrediting bodies, officially approved its new standards on Aug. 29,
2013. Since then, teacher-prep programs seeking accreditation
have worked to meet more rigorous standards, including ones
that created minimum criteria for teacher-candidates' academic
achievements and that forced institutions to demonstrate graduates' impact in the classrooms where they ended up working.
"In that period of time, it's been a very complex and challenging road to implement the standards, and that's in part because
the standards are very ambitious, and they take accreditation
in a new way," said Mary Brabeck, a member of CAEP's board
of directors who was the chairwoman of the board when the
standards were approved. "CAEP standards are charting a new

When a student opened fire at Marjorie
Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people and wounding
17 others on Feb. 14, Michigan high school
student Lilia Martinez reacted as the rest
of the nation did-with fear and horror.
Martinez, then a high school freshman
in Morenci, Mich., 100 miles southwest of
Detroit, quickly turned to something that
has helped her cope with the era when
mass school shootings seem like they could
happen anywhere-she started reading a
young adult novel about a mass school
"I guess it's
because they
make me more
aware of what
could happen if
I were in a situation like that,"
the Morenci
High School student said in an
interview. "I've
always thought
that knowledge
is power and
that if I read enough of these, the better
off I would be."
Martinez, 15, estimates that of the 28
books she read over the last school year,
both for pleasure and schoolwork, as many
as 20 of them had themes of school violence.
That she has so many to choose from is
a reflection of the fact that since the 1999
attack that killed 13 (plus the two gunmen) at Columbine High School in Colorado, young adult novels addressing mass
school shootings have practically become
their own sub-genre of teen fiction.
"These books are giving kids a voice,
to some extent," said Sally Kruger, who
writes a blog about young adult books and

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Swikar Patel/Education Week

Tjeyder Manuel Díaz
Vélez, a senior at
Escuela Alfonso Casta
Martinez in Manaubo,
works at his parents'
restaurant. He has deep
ties to his community,
but still aspires to move
to the U.S. mainland,
drawn by what he sees
as greater cultural
diversity and the chance
to earn a better living.

School Shootings
Find Dark Niche
On Fiction Shelf
For Young Adults

Doubts Cast on
Reading Groups
By Sarah D. Sparks
Educators and researchers are
looking to update one of the oldest,
most popular-and at times one of
the most controversial-methods of
targeting instruction: the elementary
reading circle.
Grouping students of similar
reading skills-think "bluebirds"
or "redbirds," for example-has
become ubiquitous in American
classrooms as a way to target instruction to students' learning
needs, spreading from 68 percent of
classrooms in 1992 to more than 90
percent by 2015. But evidence suggests that the practice may be less
beneficial than teachers think: It

can exacerbate achievement gaps
and even slow reading growth for
some children unless the groups
are fluid and focused on skills
rather than overall achievement.
The spread of modern ability grouping is likely in response to growing
pressures to raise test scores under
the No Child Left Behind Act's accountability system, said Adam
Gamoran, the president of the William T. Grant Foundation and a longtime researcher of ability-grouping
strategies. "Many people believe it is
possible to use ability grouping as differentiated instruction to maximize
achievement growth," he said. "It often
doesn't work out that way in practice."
Early grades are particularly likely
to group students by ability, because
the typical bell curve in a kindergarten or 1st grade classroom is so wide.
In one forthcoming study, Marshall Jean, a research fellow at the
Northwestern University Institute
for Policy Research, tracked nearly
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Colleges Grapple With
Teacher-Prep Standards
By Madeline Will

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