kitchen table math, the sequel: School violence, suburban schools, charter schools

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

School violence, suburban schools, charter schools

Followup to School violence 1940 - 1950

The 1940-1950 chart: School Survey Hoax:

I'm going to number sections of this post, just to make things quicker (for me & for people reading)

1. 

In the wake of learning, from the Comments thread (thank you!), that the 1940-1990 school chart is way too vivid to be true (I wondered about that -- should have listened to myself), I've done some Googling re: school violence.

Haven't finished, but while I was at it, I remembered this passage from Elizabeth Warren's book The Two-Income Trap:
Today's parents must also confront another frightening prospect as they consider where their children will attend school: the threat of school violence....[T]he statistics show that school violence is not as random as it might seem. According to one study, the incidence of serious violent crime--such as robbery, rape, or attack with a weapon--is more than three times higher in schools characterized by high poverty levels than those with predominantly middle- and upper-income children.[41] Similarly, urban children are more than twice as likely as suburban children to fear being attacked on the way to or from school. The data expose a harsh reality: Parents who can get their kids into a more economically segregated neighborhood really improve the odds that their sons and daughters will make it through school safely.[42]

Footnotes:
41. Thomas D. Snyder and Charlene M. Hoffman, Digest of Education Statistics, 2001, NCES 2001-130 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, February 2002), Table 150, Percent of Public Schools Reporting Crime Incidents and the Seriousness of Crime Incidents Reported, by School Characteristics, 1996-1997.

42. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice, 2000, NCJ 190251 (December 2001), Table 2.0001, Students Age 12 to 18 Reporting Fear of School-Related Victimization.
Setting aside the question of whether school violence was significantly higher in 1990 than in 1940, the fact is that parents universally believe suburban schools are safer than urban schools.

I'm pretty sure urban parents have the same perception of charter schools.

Charter schools radiate an image of safety and calm.

I believe parents choose charter schools in part because they believe their children will be safer in a charter school than in a traditional public school.


2.

Are charter schools actually safer?

Hard to tell. They may not be.

From 2013:
Teachers' perceptions of school safety across all school levels tended to differ by sector. Private school teachers were less likely than teachers in other sectors to report being threatened with injury in the past 12 months. Among private school teachers, 3.9 percent reported injury threats, compared with 9.6 percent of traditional public school teachers. Teachers in charter schools (10.8 percent) and BIA schools (12.6 percent) were most likely to report being threatened with injury...

[snip]

Among traditional public public school teachers, reports of being threatened with injury varied by community type. Teachers in central city schools were more likely to report threats of injury in the past 12 months than teachers in urban fringe/large town schools and teachers in rural/small town schools. In central city traditional public schools, 13.5 percent of teachers reported injury threats. In urban fringe/large town schools, 7.9 percent of teachers reported injury threats. In rural / small town schools, 8.6 percent of teachers reported injury threats.
They need to disaggregate the data. I have no idea what proportion of charter schools are "central city."

One note: the fact that charter school teachers report a threat level as high as they do weighs against the idea that charters are cherry-picking the easy students.


3.

Has there "always" been violence in schools?

The answer is 'yes,' but that is neither here nor there.

There has always been violence, period, but some places and times have been more violent than others.

The question is whether schools had become significantly more violent by 1990 than they were in 1940.

At the moment, it looks to me as if the government didn't really start collecting statistics on violence in schools until around 1990. (I may be wrong about that, but so far that's what I'm turning up.)

The label "school violence" didn't really exist prior to the 1970s (which is not to say that school violence didn't exist):


Source: "The School in School Violence: Definitions and Facts" | Michael Furlong & Gale Morrison | Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders | Summer 2000, Vol.8, No. 2, p. 72

Setting the quest for school violence statistics aside, it's well established that there was a large increase in "violence-related injuries and homicides among adolescents during the late 1980s and early 1990s."(Furlong & Morrison, 2000)

That increase affected the schools:
In some ways, society has expected a protective bubble to exist between the problems of our communities and the spillover into the school setting. Schools have remained relatively safe environments for teachers and students (Furlong & Morrison, 1994; Garbarinio, 1992); however, in some areas, the community norms and behaviors regarding violence have thoroughly invaded the school (Devine, 1995). This is particularly true in urban environments where there is a commitment to subculture norms and values that endorse the use of violence in solving conflicts (Devine, 1995; Wolfgang & Ferracuti, 1967).


4.

Do some schools keep order better than others?

Yes!

Within the same city and the same demographic, some schools keep order and some do not:
The 11 (Philadelphia) schools differed significantly on all five measures of school climate. The largest between-school differences were found for planning and action; clarity of rules; and student influence. Schools, therefore differ considerably in the degree to which students perceive that the school is making any effort to implement school improvements; in the clarity of school rules; and in the degree to which students have any influence on school policies. Note, however, that sizable but smaller effects were found for the other two climate scales as well: students feel more respects and they perceive that school rules are more fair at some schools than at others. Schools are not at all identical in the rules, procedures, norms, and practices that make up school climate.

While one might expect that 11 public schools in the same large, urban school district would evidence similar levels of disorder, this was not the case at all....Schools varied to a great degree in how safe their students felt.

[snip]

Four of the five school climate variables significantly predicted victimization: respect for students, planning and action, fairness of rules, and clarity of rules. Student influence on decision making had no effect. Respect for students had the greatest influence on lower levels of victimization.

The Effects of School Climate on School Disorder | Wayne N. Welsh | The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 2000 567: 88
Rules and respect (warm/strict): that is the recipe for safe schools as well as for good parenting.

We've known for decades that "authoritative" parents raise more successful kids, and yet somehow no one's ever heard of the research.

Kids need authoritative surrogate parents at school, too.


5.

Traditional public schools expel students all the time.

That includes SPED kids.

20 comments:

Allison said...

Wow, I'm on quite a role of comments pushing back on posts. Sorry but here I to again.

It is awfully humorous to remove one fraud and substitute Elizabeth "High cheek bones" Warren in its place. ;)

Ignoring her biographical fraud,
Elizabeth Warren's work has got a whole lot of issues, to say the least. Megan McArdle and Todd Zywicki politely but firmly took apart her Two Income Trap work in a variety of blog posts. Google van fins them for interested parties. It is clear from their work that she couldn't have accidentally confused her data and inferences either. So her quotes don't have a good track record of fidelity to underlying truth.

Auntie Ann said...

I'd be interested in a chart of school crime plotted with and compared to overall crime in society. Crime at large has dropped dramatically, and we are living in a time when serious crime is about as frequent as it was when Adam-12 was still on prime time TV.

Anonymous said...

Allison, do you have sources or any factual disagreements with Sen. Warren's argument and its sources?

It's a shame to see a fact-based blog like this devolve into namecalling. It really harms the message.

ChemProf said...

The factual disagreement revolves in part around the way Warren chooses to present her data. She gives everything in percent increase EXCEPT for taxes, so seriously neglects the increase in tax rate on these families, which is significant when her solution would require further increasing tax rates.

So while she notes that mortgages are up 76%, she means that the expense is 76% higher. But when she says taxes are up 25%, she means that the household has gone from paying 24% of its income to 33% of its income in taxes, so the percent of income is 25% higher. In fact, as an expense, given her own data, taxes increased by 140%, more than the mortgage or health insurance! But to find that, you have to pull the data out of her tables - she never gives that number explicitly.

http://www.volokh.com/2011/07/28/christopher-caldwell-falls-for-the-two-income-trap/

Not that I want to start this fight at KTM, but you asked.

Hainish said...

140%? Or just 40%? (To be consistent with the increases for mortgages, etc.)

ChemProf said...

140%. In the sample middle class families, around which the argument is based, they spend 24% of income or $9288 on taxes in 1970 and 33% of a larger income or $22374 in taxes. (The incomes given are $38700 in 1973 versus $67,800 in 2000 if you want to check my math).

In the data given, as a percentage of income, the mortage actually goes down a bit (from 13.7 to 13.3%) as does health insurance (from 2.7% to 2.4%).

The key paragraphs from the book are here:

We begin with Tom and Susan, representatives of the average middle-class family of a generation ago [early 1970s]. Tom works full-time, earning $38,700, the median income for a fully employed man in 1973, while Susan stays at home to care for the house and children. Tom and Susan have the typical two children, one in grade school and a three-year-old who stays home with Susan. The family buys health insurance through Tom's job, to which they contribute $1,030 a year--the average amount spent by an insured family that made at least some contribution to the cost of a private insurance policy. They own an average home in an average family neighborhood--costing them $5,310 a year in mortgage payments. Shopping is within walking distance, so the family owns just one car, on which it spends $5,140 a year for car payments, maintenance, gas, and repairs. And like all good citizens, they pay their taxes, which claim about 24 percent of Tom's income. Once all the taxes, mortgage payments, and other fixed expenses are paid, Tom and Susan are left with $17,834 in discretionary income (inflation adjusted), or about 46 percent of Tom's pretax paycheck. They aren't rich, but they have nearly $1,500 a month to cover food, clothing, utilities, and anything else they might need.

So how does our 1973 couple compare with Justin and Kimberly, the modern-day version of the traditional family? Like Tom, Justin is an average earner, bringing home $39,000 in 2000--not even 1 percent more than his counterpart of a generation ago. But there is one big difference: Thanks to Kimberly's full-time salary, the family's combined income is $67,800--a whopping 75 percent higher than the household income for Tom and Susan. A quick look at their income statement shows how the modern dual-income couple has sailed past their single-income counterpart of a generation ago.

So where did all that money go? Like Tom and Susan bought an average home, but today that three-bedroom-two-bath ranch costs a lot more. Their annual mortgage payments are nearly $9,000. The older child still goes to the public elementary school, but after school and during summer vacations he goes to day care, at an average yearly cost of $4,350. The younger child attends a full-time preschool/day care program, which costs the family $5,320 a year. With Kimberly at work, the second car is a must, so the family spends more than $8,000 a year on its two vehicles. Health insurance is another must, and even with Justin's employer picking up a big share of the cost, insurance takes $1,650 from the couple's paychecks. Taxes also take their toll. Thanks in part to Kimberly's extra income, the family has been bumped into a higher bracket, and the government takes 33 percent of the family's money. So where does that leave Justin and Kimberly after these basic expenses are deducted? With $17,045--about $800 less than Tom and Susan, who were getting by on just one income.

palisadesk said...

(1 of 2)Catherine wrote:"Do some schools keep order better than others?
Yes!Within the same city and the same demographic, some schools keep order and some do not."

I can speak to this with some assurance. I have been in 3 schools in the last decade, all within the same neighborhood (if you positioned them on a map, they would make an uneven triangle, each less than a mile from the others).

The area has a great deal of gang activity, drug dealing, drive-by shootings and vandalism, little of which is evident in the daytime; except for drug paraphernalia in the parking lot and conspicuous police cars, I rarely see any evidence of crime. We have had several lockdowns due to armed suspects in the area, and the school is locked down until police inform us it is safe. The reason they give is that they don't want an offender entering a school and attempting to take hostages.

Actual crime is really not that big a deal for the most part. Crime and violence in elementary schools has not, in my experience, ever been a big issue (I am talking K-8 elementary), and has not increased in my experience.

But, violence in elementary schools does occur and is of a lesser order than crime. It includes the usual bullying and school.yard fights that have always been with us, occasionally punctuated by an incident of a student with a weapon. Violence and disorder are more of the disruption and uncontrolled behavior sort, where there are kids running around unsupervised, taunting, harassment in the bathrooms, egregious swearing and opprobrious epithets, minor assaults,mostly against each other but also staff etc.

A measurable portion (I wouldn't want to estimate an exact percentage) is due to increased numbers of mentally ill children and children with severe autism. Whereas we used to have other facilities for kids with real psychiatric disorders, most of them have been closed, and those children are in our schools, often with no support. Most children with autism are also included in general ed classes, although we do have some segregated programs as well.

palisadesk said...

(1 of 2)Catherine wrote:"Do some schools keep order better than others?
Yes!Within the same city and the same demographic, some schools keep order and some do not."

I can speak to this with some assurance. I have been in 3 schools in the last decade, all within the same neighborhood (if you positioned them on a map, they would make an uneven triangle, each less than a mile from the others).

The area has a great deal of gang activity, drug dealing, drive-by shootings and vandalism, little of which is evident in the daytime; except for drug paraphernalia in the parking lot and conspicuous police cars, I rarely see any evidence of crime. We have had several lockdowns due to armed suspects in the area, and the school is locked down until police inform us it is safe. The reason they give is that they don't want an offender entering a school and attempting to take hostages.

Actual crime is really not that big a deal for the most part. Crime and violence in elementary schools has not, in my experience, ever been a big issue (I am talking K-8 elementary), and has not increased in my experience.

But, violence in elementary schools does occur and is of a lesser order than crime. It includes the usual bullying and school.yard fights that have always been with us, occasionally punctuated by an incident of a student with a weapon. Violence and disorder are more of the disruption and uncontrolled behavior sort, where there are kids running around unsupervised, taunting, harassment in the bathrooms, egregious swearing and opprobrious epithets, minor assaults,mostly against each other but also staff etc.

A measurable portion (I wouldn't want to estimate an exact percentage) is due to increased numbers of mentally ill children and children with severe autism. Whereas we used to have other facilities for kids with real psychiatric disorders, most of them have been closed, and those children are in our schools, often with no support. Most children with autism are also included in general ed classes, although we do have some segregated programs as well.

palisadesk said...

(2 of 2)Given all that, there is a huge difference among the last three schools where school climate and student behavior are concerned. The poverty level is about the same; school size about the same (550-700), demographics about the same (1-2% white, 2-3% Asian, a mixture of many black and brown subgroups). No middle class families.

Yet, school A, where I spent 8 years, was pretty well-disciplined and positive, with some good strategies for dealing with offenders and problems WITHOUT using suspension and expulsion. For one thing, suspension rewards the ones who don't want to be there in the first place, and they misbehave on purpose to get a free pass to the mall for a few days.
After a change in administration, however, things started to slide, and now, 5 years later, the place is a zoo and it's academic standing is practically the lowest in the district where it was formerly respectably in the middle. School B had a lot of neighborhood issues due to being in the middle of a housing project (so non-students were often on the grounds etc), and the older students were more likely to be involved in undesirable extracurriculars. Still, the environment was relatively calm and classes orderly and children learning -- but one knew that it was a matter of constant vigilance.

Now I am at school C, a Frisbee throw away, and it is a completely different world. I am told it was pretty much like the first two some years back but a new principal came in and over time it has become a high-achieving, calm, enthusiastic place. The staff are outstanding, families love the school and support it in a variety of ways, we have lots of special activities to help kids broaden their horizons and gain background knowledge (principal is an active campaign for sponsors for different projects). In 4 years I have never seen or heard of a student fight, playground brawl or weapons issue. No drugs.

Academically, we outperform not only all the other schools in the (low-SES)
area, but many of the middle-class and upper-class ones as well.

I think strong leadership of the best kind is what is needed -- and is in very short supply. An outstanding principal can transform a school (incrementally), and a bad one -- and I have worked for several -- can destroy one for years to come.

With all the yadda yadda about good teachers and bad teachers, you would think we would hear something about bad principals, the harm they do, and the need for great ones.

I've been active in reform efforts for a long time and the silence is deafening.

Hainish said...

It still seems like you're comparing apples to oranges. How would you describe the change in mortgage payment, in the same terms?

Hainish said...

OK, I see, tax increases by 140% in absolute terms - from $9288 to 22,374. You're correct, but the income also almost doubles. All other things being equal, in the simplest scenario, shouldn't the tax also almost double? (I'm talking in descriptive, not prescriptive, terms.)

Mortgage increases from $5130 to $9000. If I'm figuring it the same way I did for tax, this is a 175% increase in absolute terms. However, all other things being equal, there is no reason for mortgage to increase this much - they are still living in a single house. (As a percentage of the couple's income, mortgage should nearly halve, instead of going down just a tiny bit.)

Hainish said...

Oops, mortgage increases 75%, not 175%. The mortgage nearly doubles, while the tax more than doubles (presumably because they're in a higher tax bracket . . . I wonder if this is the basis for the marriage penalty).

ChemProf said...

Right. The tax brackets are written with single people in mind, with a small adjustment for married folks. If only one person works, there is a marriage benefit in the tax code, but not if both work. Plus a larger house means more property tax.

If in the 2000 example, they paid 24% of their higher income in tax (so still paid more taxes but not such a big increase), their "extra" income would be ~5300 higher than the 1970's couple. Not as much higher as the income increase, but not lower either.

But the book is written to make it hard to do an apples to apples comparison, and to imply that taxes only increased a little bit.

Allison said...

Thx Chem Prof. I was not on a device that could cut and paste, let alone type paragraphs without massive spelling errors.

My pointers to McArdle taking apart Warren go back as far as 2009 on this very blog.

From then, I wrote in the comments of the Rubber Room post:
"I like Megan McArdle's take on Warren better, actually:

--"
Warren has an intriguing thesis: that women going into the workforce has resulted in few real consumption gains to families with children because all the money is going to childcare, and to bidding up the price of houses in good school districts. Meanwhile, families are more fragile, vulnerable to outside events, because Mom no longer functions as an all-purpose backstop. Meanwhile, the government is not providing the things those families need: childcare, high quality education, a more generous safety net, health insurance. The result: more bankruptcies, less financial security. The talk is provocatively titled "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards, and a Shrinking Safety Net"
As you can imagine, this thesis is extremely beloved of liberals, who like its endorsement of more government benefits, while ignoring the fact that this could equally well argue for having women stay home.
Nonetheless, I think it's an interesting thesis, and having read the book, I find it eminently plausible. The only problem is that it does not actually seem to be true.


Here are the rest of McArdle's posts on the subject:

http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/is_the_middle_class_really_doo.php


http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/the_death_of_the_middle_class.php

http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/the_death_of_the_middle_class_1.php

Allison said...

And then again, in 2012, Warren came up and I posted these links in comments, which were again, posts by McArdle pointing to work by Zywicki.

--for a contrary opinion on warren's 2 income trap, start here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/07/considering-elizabeth-warren-the-scholar/60211/

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/07/more-weird-metrics-for-elizabeth-warren/60351/


Which, as I said, was all findable if you just googled. in fact, even if you just googled site:kitchentablemath.blogspot.com

Hainish said...

I'm not sure I buy McArdle's thesis. A couple's tax increases because their combined income increased. However, their mortgage still increases a great deal. That's what needs to be explained.

Hainish said...

palisadesk - All I can say is, Amen. What you point out about school culture is so true. Question is, why is the silence deafening? I would point to an ethos of attributing student behavior exclusively to out-of-school factors, combined with a reluctance among teachers to speak harshly about their administrators (on the record, at least).

Catherine Johnson said...

palisadesk - thank you!

Catherine Johnson said...

wait ... I've only skimmed the comments on Morgan -- but they seem to be questioning her calculation of income & taxes.

(Yes?)

That's not the issue here.

I'm quoting her passage on crime in schools.

Do people disagree that urban schools have more crime than suburban schools?

That's what she's talking about in this passage, and that's what I'm talking about.

Allison said...

If you mean Warren, the issue is this: back in 2008, Warren was shown to have a serious problem quoting statistics in a straightforward way. Whether that was intentional or not was unclear, though it demonstrated her scholarship couldn't be trusted. During the election, she was shown to have misrepresented her biographical information in order to better her career, thereby establishing a pattern of being untrustworthy when it suits her aims. So now there is an extremely good reason to dismiss her claims of "the facts" as well as her analysis about crime stats here as well.