Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Active Shooter" Incidents On The Rise, According To New FBI Study

As reported on NPR, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released the results of a study it conducted on "active shooter" incidents in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013.

U.S. government agencies (including the White House and law enforcement agencies) define an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.  The FBI notes that "implicit in this definition is that the subject’s criminal actions involve the use of firearms."  Because some incidents involved two or more shooters, and some took place outside, for the purpose of this study the FBI expanded the definition of active shooter incidents to include incidents with more than one shooter and incidents that occurred outside of a building.  The report further notes that
"This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement and the public may face. Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations; therefore caution should be taken when using this information without placing it in context. Specifically, shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence [...] were not included in this study. In addition, other gun-related shootings were not included when those incidents appeared generally not to have put others in peril (e.g., the accidental discharge of a firearm in a school building or a person who chose to publicly commit suicide in a parking lot). The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope."

Working with data from official police records, FBI records, and open sources, the FBI identified 160 active shooter incidents between 2000-2013.

  • The 160 incidents produced 1,043 casualties (not including the shooters): 486 people were killed, and 557 were wounded.
  • The average number of incidents more than doubled over the period: an average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first 7 years studied, and an average of 16.4 occurred in the last 7 years.
  • 70 percent of the incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment.
  • Shootings occurred in 40 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 67 percent of the incidents ended before police arrived.
  • In 64 incidents (40 percent), the crime would have fallen within the federal definition of "mass killing" (defined as "three or more" killed). 
  • 6 of the shooters were female.
  • In 64 incidents (40 percent), the shooters committed suicide; 54 shooters did so at the scene of the crime. 
  •  In 64 incidents where the duration of the incident could be ascertained, 44 (69 percent) of 64 incidents ended in 5 minutes or less, with 23 ending in 2 minutes or less.
  • The majority of the 160 incidents (56.3 percent) ended on the shooter's initiative—sometimes when the shooter committed suicide or stopped shooting, and other times when the shooter fled the scene. 
  • The study identified 21 (13.1 percent) of 160 incidents where unarmed citizens made the selfless and deeply personal choices to face the danger of an active shooter. In those instances, the citizens safely and successfully disrupted the shootings. In 11 of those 21 incidents, unarmed principals, teachers, other school staff and students confronted the shooters to end the threat. In 10 incidents, citizens, working or shopping when the shootings began, successfully restrained shooters until police could arrive. And in 6 other incidents, armed off-duty police officers, citizens, and security guards risked their lives to successfully end the threat. 

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Generational Trends in Attitudes about Gun Ownership: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3448)
Pew Interactive Tools: Gun Rights versus Gun Control (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3888)
Gun Violence in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3864)
Crime Victimization in the US: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3437)
Indicators of School Crime And Safety (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3878)
CrimeStat III (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3055)
Federal Law Enforcement Statistics (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3263)
Crime and Victims Statistics (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3261)
Fear of Crime (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3155)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Record Number of Public School Students Nationwide Are Homeless

A new report published by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) shows that there were 1,258,182  homeless children enrolled in public preschool and grades K-12 during the 2012-2013 year, an eight percent increase from the prior year.  This figure represents a conservative estimate, as the data do not include homeless infants, toddlers and youngsters not enrolled in preschool, as well as homeless children and teens who were not identified by school officials.

According to the report:

  • Three-quarters of these students live with friends or extended family members, 16 percent live in shelters, 3 percent live without shelter, and 6 percent live completely on their own without parents or other family members.
  • A significant number of homeless students have disabilities or have limited English language skills.
  • As the number of homeless students has risen, their proficiency scores (reading, math) have decreased.

"A record number of homeless students mean a record number of our children being exposed to sexual trafficking, abuse, hunger, and denial of their basic needs," said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. "The new data means that a record number of kids in our schools and communities are spending restless nights in bed-bug infested motels and falling more behind in school by the day because they’re too tired and hungry to concentrate."

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Homelessness: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3244)
Michigan's Campaign to End Homelessness (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3885)
Children in Poverty Course Module (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2871)
Investigating Children in Poverty (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3175)
Education in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3124)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Consensus Is Universal: CEOs Get Paid Too Much

In a paper titled "How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay" to be published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Sorapop Kiatpongsan (Chulalongkorn University) and Michael Norton (Harvard Business School) examine people's perceptions of income inequality.  More specifically, the authors compare what people think the pay ratio for CEOs to unskilled workers is, to what they think it should be, and to what it actually is.

The data are from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) from December 2012.  The sample includes respondents from 40 countries.

Kiatpongsan and Norton found that on average, people estimate that the pay ratio for CEOs to unskilled workers is about 10 to 1.  The ideal pay ratio, according to them, would be 4.6 to 1.  Both are far below real pay ratios.  In the U.S., for instance, the real pay ratio is 350 to 1.  Although not all countries agree on estimated and ideal pay ratios ("people in Denmark, for example, estimated the ratio to be 3.7 to 1, with an ideal ratio being 2 to 1. In South Korea, the estimated gap was much larger at 41.7 to 1. The ideal gap in Taiwan was particularly high, at 20 to 1"), the consensus, regardless of nationality or set of beliefs, is that CEOs get paid too much.

When it comes to other beliefs -- ranging from the importance of working hard or having a lot of job responsibility -- differences among people didn't result in major shifts in how much CEOs should get paid, either. 
"My coauthor and I were most surprised by the extraordinary consensus across the many different countries in the survey," Norton says. "Despite enormous differences in culture, income, religion, and other factors, respondents in every country surveyed showed a universal desire for smaller gaps in pay between the rich and poor than the current level in their countries. [...] Many of the heated debates about whether CEO pay should be capped or the minimum wage increased are debates based on an extreme lack of knowledge about the true state of affairs. In other words, both liberals and conservatives fail to accurately estimate the actual current gaps in our pay. Our hope is that presenting the data to all sides might force people to examine their assumptions about whether some people are making more than they would like, and others less."
Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Wealth Inequality in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3922)
Social Class and Attitudes about Inequality: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3459)
Income Inequality in the U.S. (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3182)
Income Differences (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3113)
An Analysis of Earnings (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3159)
NYT Interactive: What Percent Are You? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3913)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Intergenerational Educational Mobility

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released "Education At A Glance 2014: OECD Indicators," a comprehensive report of annual data on the structure, finances, and performance of education systems in the OECD's 34 member countries, as well as a number of partner countries.  The report covers a wide range of topics, from educational attainment and resources invested in education, to access to education and characteristics of education systems.

One of the topics examined in the report is intergenerational educational mobility.  In other words: to what extent does parental education influence participation in tertiary education?  Education is linked to earnings, employment, and the overall wealth and well-being of individuals.  It promotes social mobility and a country's future growth, and it has the potential to reduce, but also reproduce, inequality in societies.

Mobility can be measured in absolute or relative terms.  Absolute mobility refers to the "proportion of individuals whose level of education is different (lower or higher) from that of their parents."  By contrast, relative mobility "considers the magnitude of difference in the chance of attaining a given level of education rather than another among people whose parents have different levels of education.  This indicator provides information about the advantages and disadvantages associated with having parents with different levels of educational attainment."

The data show that, across the OECD countries:

  • On average, 12 percent of non-student adults (age 25-64) have lower educational attainment than their parents, about half have the same educational attainment as their parents, and 40 percent have a higher level of educational attainment than their parents.
  • Intergenerational educational mobility is highest in Finland, Belgium, Korea and the Russian Federation, where 55 percent of non-student adults have a higher level of education than their parents.  In all countries, upward mobility is considerably more common than downward mobility.
  • More than 30 percent of non-student adults whose parents have not attained upper secondary education also ended their schooling before completing upper secondary education.  However, over 45 percent have an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education and about 20 percent have a tertiary education.
  • Parents' education seems to have an effect on individuals' literacy and numeracy proficiency.  25 percent of adults whose parents have below upper secondary education perform at or below Level 1 in literacy, the lowest level in the Survey of Adult Skills.  Only five percent perform at Level 4 or 5, compared to 20 percent of those whose parents have a tertiary education.
  • Absolute upward mobility rates are similar for men (38 percent) and women (40 percent) overall, except in Austria, Germany, Korea, and the Netherlands, where men are considerably more upwardly mobile in educational attainment than women.

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Economics of Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2916)
Without a High-School Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3861)
Men's real hourly wage by education, 1973-2007 (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2947)
Do Blacks Earn Less than Whites and Why? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3162)
Women's Education (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3104)
Education and Earnings: Does Education Pay? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3107)
Education in America (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3124)
Exploring Education Attainment of U.S. Native-born and Foreign-born (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3131)
The Value of College (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3866)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Poverty Level Remains Stubbornly High

As reported in a recent Huffington Post article, the U.S. Census Bureau's latest figures show that 14.5 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line in 2013, slightly down from 15 percent in 2012, but more than two percentage points higher than it was pre-recession in 2007.

In 2013 the poverty threshold was $11,490 for a person and $23,550 for a family of four.  The income measures used by the Census Bureau do not take into account taxes, tax credits, capital gains or non-cash benefits (such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and housing assistance).

Highlights from the report include:
  • The poverty rate for children under 18 fell from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013.
  • The poverty rate for people aged 18 to 64 was 13.6 percent, while the rate for people aged 65 and older was 9.5 percent. Neither of these poverty rates was statistically different from its 2012 estimates.
  • Both the poverty rate and the number in poverty decreased for Hispanics in 2013.
  • Despite the decline in the national poverty rate, the 2013 regional poverty rates were not statistically different from the 2012 rates. 
  • About 1 in 5 related children under age 6 were in poverty in 2013. The poverty rate and the number in poverty for these children were 22.2 percent and 5.2 million in 2013, down from 24.4 percent and 5.8 million in 2012.  Among related children under age 6 in families with a female householder, more than half (55.0 percent) were in poverty.22 This was more than five times the rate for related children in married-couple families (10.2 percent).

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Topics At A Glance: Poverty (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2967)
Children in Poverty Course Module (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2871)
Differences in Social Class Status and Poverty Levels Among Older Adults in the United States (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3164)
Race and Poverty in the United States (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3169)
Poverty and Young Adults (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3170)
Investigating Children in Poverty (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3175)
Poverty (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3103)
Gender, Education, Family, Poverty, and Race (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3128)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Majority of Americans Still Support The Use of Spanking

As corporal punishment resurfaced in the news recently, the polling aggregation website FiveThirtyEight examined Americans' views of spanking, using data from the General Social Survey (GSS) going back to 1986.

The surveys indicate that while spanking has become less popular over time, 70 percent of Americans still agree that it's an acceptable form of punishment.

The data also indicate that opinions on spanking vary by race, religion, region, and party.  Specifically, support for spanking appears higher among Blacks, born-again Christians, Republicans, as well as in the South.
"There’s some overlap here, obviously. There are a lot of Republicans in the South, for example, so saying the South favors spanking and Republicans favor spanking is somewhat redundant. But all of the differences in these charts hold, even when controlling for the variables in the other charts. That is, put each of these variables into a regression, and it shows that the differences are real — the South, for example, isn’t more pro-spanking than the Northeast simply because there are more Republicans in the South."

According to the Center for Effective Discipline, 31 states have banned corporal punishment in schools.  Of the 19 who still allow it, most are located in the South.  Department of Education statistics show that a disproportionate number of the students who receive corporal punishment at school are male and Black:
"Estimates from the Department of Education’s 2006 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) show a total of 223,190 students without disabilities received corporal punishment nationwide that year, 78.26% of whom were male. Among that number, black students were also targeted disproportionately — 35.67% received corporal punishment, although they only made up 17.13% of the student population."

Read more:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Demographics of Teaching: Why Don't More Men Become Teachers?

In a recent New York Times article, Motoko Rich discusses the increasing gender imbalance in the teaching profession, a trend analyzed by Richard M. Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues in their report: "Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force."

Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Education, Ingersoll, Merrill, and Stuckey examined the demographics of teaching and uncovered seven prominent trends suggesting that the teaching force is becoming: 1. larger; 2. grayer; 3. greener; 4. more female; 5. more diverse, by race-ethnicity; 6. consistent in academic ability; and 7. less stable.

Many traditionally male professions (doctors, lawyers, architects, ...) have opened up to women over the last several decades.  Surprisingly, this has not translated into fewer women entering teaching: "Both the number of women entering teaching and the proportion of teachers who are female have gone up. The SASS data, along with other NCES data, show that since the early 1980s there has been a steady increase in the proportion of teachers who are female, from 67 percent in 1980-81 to over 76 percent in 2011-12."

The increasing proportion of teachers who are female is not explained by a decline in males entering the
occupation, since "the number of males entering teaching has also grown, by 22 percent, which is also
faster than the rate of increase of the student population. But the number of females in teaching has increased at over twice that rate."

The authors offer three possible explanations:

  • Increasing employment opportunities for females in general, but also in the educational sector, both at the secondary level and in leadership.  
  • As the proportion of women entering the workforce has increased, so has the the proportion of all employed women who are teachers.
  • The workday structure (shortened days and summers off) makes caring for a family more manageable and teaching more appealing to women negotiating the dual roles of homemaker and breadwinner.

Ingersoll, Merrill and Stuckey conclude that this trend is worrisome:
"If the trend continues, soon 8 of 10 teachers in the nation will be female. An increasing percentage of elementary schools will have no male teachers. An increasing number of students may encounter few, if any, male teachers during their time in either elementary or secondary school. Given the importance of teachers as role models, and even as surrogate parents for some students, certainly some will see this trend as a problem and a policy concern. Moreover, an increasing proportion of women in teaching may have implications for the stature and status of teaching as an occupation. Traditionally, women’s work has been held in lower esteem and has paid less than male-dominated work. If the feminization of teaching continues, what will it mean for the way this line of work is valued and rewarded?"

Read more: