Friday, February 13, 2009

Hundreds went to class armed, S.F. study finds

Today's Chronicle reports:

Nearly 900 San Francisco middle and high school students said they had carried a gun to school at least once last year, most of them saying they had done so four or more times, according to the most comprehensive district survey on school safety and climate.

In addition to the gun tallies, 1,767 students reported bringing another kind of weapon - a knife or club, for example - during the same time frame.

That's 4 percent and 8 percent respectively of the survey respondents, rates slightly below national trends, according to district officials.

About 21,000 students (out of 28,000 enrolled) participated in the middle and high school safety surveys, and their answers seemed to validate previous results from surveys that relied on much smaller sample sizes and statistical extrapolation.

But the raw numbers brought home the daily reality of guns and other alarming conditions in the city's middle and high schools.

"I don't think any principal here can deny ... that everyday there's got to be a gun on campus and we just don't know," said Guillermo Morales, principal of Thurgood Marshall Academic High School. "I would be very naive to say we don't have that problem here."

Morales said one gun has been confiscated at his school this year.


For the full story click here.

29 comments:

  1. someone mentioned in another thread the presence of "gang bangers" at Lowell, and I recall a gun being found there last year - does anyone know if most kids at the K-8 middle schools, Lowell, SOTA and Gateway feel safe, or is day to day, minute to minute safety an issue at these schools, also?

    although kids exaggerate, this article is nonetheless very disturbing

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  2. Yes, it is disturbing. The gun found at Lowell was not found during school hours and the person with the gun was not a Lowell student -- it was someone enrolled in evening classes that happened to be held at Lowell High School.

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  3. It is disturbing. The article suggests that this is not a school thing, but rather kids from violent neighborhoods seeking protection when going to and fro on the bus. Meaning, the guns--to the extent the reported numbers are not being exaggerated--are in the backpacks in the lockers during the school day. In fact, I would bet many of these same kids feel a lot safer at school, on a number of levels, than they do back home, which is why kids like to stay for after school activities and hang around waiting for rides. They are not looking to shoot up the school.

    I don't mean to say that that makes it okay, just that it is not the same thing as "went to class armed." It's not Columbine or Virginia Tech. It's kids who are scared on MUNI and city streets. This also suggests that the incidence is likely to be much higher at schools with kids from certain neigbhorhoods and SES status. I do not think this is a big issue at Giannini, Presidio, SOTA, Lowell for example, but I bet it is at MLK and Thurgood Marshall.

    My own child has not felt unsafe at middle school. And certainly not a minute-to-minute feeling of being unsafe. Everything seems very normal and gang behavior is not tolerated.

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  4. I've raised this up in postings on middle and high school issues before, but isn't this yet another example of why large, warehouse-type middle and high schools -- such as SFUSD seems to want to exclusively have -- are just not working? I fear that the few here whose kids are barricaded into "honors" classes and happy with the present system are missing the bigger reality: these warehouse-type middle and high schools are not serving well our most vulnerable students, low-income kids and special needs kids. We need to be exploring ideas such as more K through 8's, more "small schools" within large high schools and more ways where our kids are more closely monitored, challenged and advanced. Everywhere else I see fulsome discussions of these and other ideas. But it seems that at SFUSD -- and frankly on this blog -- any effort to start up a discussion inevitably ends up with the parents of the few middle and high school public kids for whom the system is working -- honors kids walled off in tracked classrooms -- shouting the rest of us down. I hope this study will push SFUSD to finally start recognizing that smaller IS better!

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  5. Smaller is better, but SFUSD does not support the smaller schools in the same way as the larger so-called "comprehensive" middle schools because teacher funding is population based. For example, the K-8 middle schools have very limited elective choices because of these schools' smaller populations; electives at the K-8s' are generally taught using the talents/interests of the school's 6-8th grade teachers, and there are no daily music or language electives.

    I agree that small schools are the answer, and hope that SFUSD provides more support to the middle school programs these schools encompass.

    Finally, bridging the gap for the most needy and underserved students is an issue at most if not every SFUSD school(s).

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  6. I'd rather have a smaller, safer school. Who cares about cheerleading?

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  7. 4:11, I agree. There's two parents who clutter up this blog who go out of their way to knock-down small schools, but many of us want them, even if we can't have our own football team ... (or cheerleading squad).
    They have this pompous attitude that everyone should want a school like the one they chose for their kids.

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  8. Kids bring guns to Elementary schools here too.

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  9. It's not exclusively students in honors classes who are having a happy and learning in middle school, though. Of course that's anecdotal, but that's what veteran parents observe.

    We have one or more James Lick Middle School parents who post there, and James Lick doesn't have separate honors classes.

    Small schools work better for some kids, and many are happy at larger schools.

    The lowest-performing SFUSD high school is the showplace "small school by design," June Jordan. The evidence doesn't bear out the idea that small schools are "the answer." If you go by API, SFUSD's most successful middle school is its largest, Presidio, and its three most successful high schools are the three largest, Lowell, Washington and Lincoln. (SOTA's test scores have historically been second to Lowell's, but that's not the case right now.)

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  10. Sorry, correcting my typo in previous post: It's not exclusively students in honors classes who are happy and learning in middle school ...

    And by the way -- Lowell, Washington, Lincoln and Presidio -- the largest high schools and the largest middle schools in the district -- are extremely popular and in very high demand. Every year for quite some years now, Lincoln has had the most applicants per opening of any SFUSD high school -- far more popular than any of the small high schools in the district (June Jordan, the Academy of Arts & Sciences at SOTA, and several charters). Clearly large schools are in very high demand, and the applicants (and current students) don't feel they're in danger or that they're being "warehoused."

    In the ideal situation, it would seem like families could choose from large or small schools. But the data are resoundingly in favor of large schools, if you just look at the numbers (achievement and demand).

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  11. 5:08 is Caroline sock puppeting again.

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  12. Thanks for keeping me uppermost in your mind, 5:59 -- I guess it's flattering.

    I decided that I seemed to be about the only person left who posted under my name and it was finally time to join the anonymice club. It got too ridiculous.

    It seems like there are more effective ways for parents to spend our time than doing something so silly as posting speculation about who other anonymous posters are. If you have a response to the content of my posts or others, that might be a more productive use of energy.

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  13. You've been posting under your name and as an anon who always agrees with you for over a year.

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  14. Um, no, anonymous fan, I haven't posted anonymously before. Thanks for so often keeping me uppermost in your mind, I guess...

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  15. One way to dominate a conversation, isn't it? LOL.

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  16. The cyber equivalent of "talking to oneself" ?

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  17. IP addresses don't lie, but people do.

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  18. Meanwhile, going back to the actual subject:

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  19. Shouldn't the title of this article really have been, "Hundreds CLAIM they went to class armed, study finds"? After all, this was a study that asks students various questions with no way whatsoever of determining whether their answers are accurate or not, and no consequence for the students if they...for want of a better phrase....make s**t up. I know my own children would be more than happy to indicate on an anonymous survey that they took drugs, had unprotected sex, carried weapons, beat people up, robbed liquor stores, ran people over, mugged little old ladies, you name it. These are TEENAGERS!

    Sure some of them probably do bring a weapon to school, but I doubt this survey is getting an accurate count. And does anyone recall the last time a student shot someone at school? You would think that if such a large number were "packing heat", there would be shootings all the time. Yet, it doesn't happen.

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  20. Yeah, it's from the Geraldo Rivera school of journalism ...

    like MEXICAN FOOD CAN KILL YOU

    and then it's a story about someone choking on a tortilla chip ..

    sensationalist slow news day crap

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  21. I blogged about my thoughts on the study here:
    http://rachelnorton.com/2009/02/13/study-guns-at-school/

    Rachel
    (who WILL keep posting under her own name here even if I am the only one! And btw, it's pretty obvious who many prolific posters are even when you post anonymously. And I *don't* just mean Caroline.)

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  22. Yup, even WITHOUT digging up the IP addresses :)

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  23. The IP addresses aren't available. That's a bluff. Wouldn't want to deter posters who might genuinely want to stay anonymous, whistleblowers or whatever.

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  24. 7:34
    Of course they are available, this is the internet, everything is traceable. You can get the IP address, which tells you it is the same computer, to get the information about who that IP address belongs to is much harder, but even that can be done by people who know what they are doing.

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  25. Blogger does not provide a way to track IP addresses of posters. There are ways to do it anyway, and Kate *could* do it. But you can't.

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  26. Sure I could, if I wanted to, but it isn't worth bothering.

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  27. You could create a honeypot to narrow the suspects, but that's about it. Unless you hack into Kate's account.

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  28. Good God, who cares?

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  29. ^^Thanks!!

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    ReplyDelete