Friday, March 02, 2018

Why Conservatives Must Be Part of Reforming School safety

As school safety discussions ramp up across the nation, a state legislator who is a survivor of the Columbine massacre is proposing legislation that would end gun-free zones.

Leading the charge is Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who was a student at the high school in Columbine, Colorado, at the time of the 1999 shooting. He advocates that willing teachers have the ability to arm themselves and have concealed carry permits.

Neville, a Republican, told The Daily Signal that he hopes to “end this crazy policy of gun-free zones that I think just invites criminals to do harm to our students.”

Last week, however, the Colorado House rejected Neville’s proposal and similar bills in the wake of a gunman’s rampage Feb. 14 at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

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Neville has personal experience with school shootings. Now in his mid-30s, he was a sophomore at Columbine High School when two fellow students opened fire there in 1999, killing 13.

The Daily Signal interviewed Neville on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, one day after he was invited to speak with President Donald Trump at the White House.

“What I’ve been presenting, as a former Columbine student I take this very personal, is that we end that policy [of gun-free zones] and we actually allow our teachers to defend our students,” he said. 

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who was a Columbine High School sophomore at the time of the 1999 mass shooting, is pushing legislation that he says would protect students -- by getting rid of gun restrictions in schools.

Neville said Trump is open to the idea of commonsense solutions to gun violence.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were also present at the White House meeting.

The problem encompasses more than guns, Neville said. The two Columbine perpetrators also wanted to explode a bomb, he noted. 

“I don’t think raising the age limit, I don’t think banning an assault weapon is going to work,” Neville said. “I think the only thing that’s truly going to work is allowing our teachers, teachers who want …  to defend our students.”

His personal experience prompted him to take action.

The Columbine shooting left a “huge impression,” he said. He recalled a distraught father coming up to him in search of his missing son. He later found out that the student had died.

“For me now as a father, I never want to go through what that father went through, and don’t want my kids to have to go through what I went through.”

Although the Colorado House didn’t pass his legislation, he has received growing support for his ideas, including from former Columbine classmates.

“It’s kind of incredible that I have so many former classmates reaching out to me saying that they support this,” Neville said. “And we had three people [who were fellow survivors] testify on the bill when I supported it in Colorado on Wednesday night that came out.”

“And their stories, I’ll be honest with you, are much more compelling than mine,” he said. “We had one student who was actually in the [school] library and was shot.”

Neville added:

I’ll tell you, for every one student that came out publicly supportive of the bill, there was at least 30, if not more, students who support it. But because of the anti-gun opposition, which is so organized and so well-funded, has been so just vitriolic about it, they’re scared to come out.

Neville said he remains confident that his proposal to end gun-free zones, allowing teachers to be armed, would produce real results.

“I think that would also deter these from happening from the get-go, because the person is going to think twice and they’re going to know that they aren’t going to go in unopposed,” he said. “They’re going to face fierce opposition once they hit that school door. They’re going to think twice and not even do it in the first place.”


Schools Safer Now Than They Were in 1990s, According to New Study

According to a new study, school shootings have declined since the early 1990s. “There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law, and public policy at Northeastern University.

“The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround,” Fox also said.

“The Three R’s of School Shootings: Risk, Readiness, and Response” is a new study that dives into the numbers of mass shootings at schools in the United States.

According to the Northeastern News write-up of study, “four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than [are] today, Fox said.”

The study defines a “multiple victim” shooting as having at least four victims and at least two deaths, not including the assailant. Since 1996, there have been 16 multiple victim shootings. Of those, eight were mass shootings—which involve four or more deaths, excluding the assailant.

Authors of the study suggested that school intruder drills, requiring ID cards for entry, and metal detectors have been largely ineffective.

“[School intruder drills] just serve to alarm students and make them think it’s something that’s common,” said Emma Fridel, a doctoral student who helped write the study with Fox.

As for metal detectors, a school shooter in Minnesota killed the guard at the entryway of the metal detector in 2005 and another shooter killed and injured children on a playground rather than entering the school in 1989. In 1998, two students pulled the fire alarm and shot students as they exited the school.

Increasing mental health resources could possibly help deter mass shooting, Fridel suggested, pointing out the high student-to-student counselor ratio.

“You might have students in a very large school who are troubled but who are basically flying under the radar because you have one guidance counselor for 400 students,” she said.

“Notwithstanding the occasional multiple-fatality shooting that takes place at one of the 100,000 public schools across America, the nation’s schools are safe. Over the past quarter-century, on average about 10 students are slain in school shootings annually,” wrote Fox for USA Today earlier this month. “Compare the school fatality rate with the more than 100 school-age children accidentally killed each year riding their bikes or walking to school. ”

The data Fox and Fridel utilized came from the FBI, Gun Violence Archive, Congressional Research Service, and others.


Students from China, India and Nepal surge at Australian universities despite jobs squeeze etc.


Chinese and Indian students have not been deterred by negative media coverage or reports of racist attacks, and are flocking to Australian universities in record numbers.

New statistics show amost 190,000 foreigners applied to study in Australia between July and December, an increase of 14.1 per cent on the same period in 2016, with Indian applicants surging by 32 per cent and Chinese applicants by 13 per cent. Nepal overtook Brazil as the third-largest source of applicants, rising by 46 per cent to nearly 12,000 prospective students.

More than 90 per cent of applicants were granted student visas, with 41,000 - a quarter of all student visas issued in the quarter - going to Chinese nationals. A further 20,000 were Indian nationals. The grant rate for Chinese applicants steadily declined over the course of 2017 from 98.3 per cent to 93.8 per cent. In total, the number of student visas granted rose by 7 per cent.

International students pay huge fees to study in Australia and have become an enormous source of income for universities, particularly the Group of Eight, to the extent that education has become the country's third-biggest export market.

Critics have raised concerns at the level of Chinese influence in Australian universities, with students sometimes objecting to course material covering China and its government. Such matters, as well as physical attacks on Chinese students, have received prominent coverage in local and overseas Chinese media.

Last month Beijing issued a safety warning for Chinese students in Australia and provided phone numbers in case of emergency.

But the figures released this week by the Department of Home Affairs show Chinese interest in an Australian higher education has only continued to grow. The 12.9 per cent increase in applications from Chinese nationals was far higher in July-December 2017 than the same period in 2016 (6.7 per cent) and 2015 (5.6 per cent).

Over the past 10 years, Nepal has grown exponentially as a source of international students, initially spurred by the decade-long Maoist insurgency and subsequent word of mouth. Nepalese media have identified Sydney's Victoria University and Western Sydney University as major destinations for Nepalese students, and Auburn has become Sydney's hub for Nepalese-speakers.

However, the figures released by the government this week also show signs of a jobs squeeze for international students after graduation. The number of graduates moving straight into skilled work has crashed following the Turnbull government's changes to the temporary 457 visa, which will be abolished and replaced this month.

Just 3000 graduates transitioned to a 457, a decline of 50 per cent on the same period in 2016, while the number who moved on to a 189 or 190 skilled visa also fell. Instead, there was a 30 per cent increase in students moving on to a 485 "temporary graduate" visa, which allows them to work in Australia but is not a guarantee of skilled labour. There was also an 11.5 per cent rise in the number of graduates who moved on to a tourist visa.

Er-Kai Wang, associate lecturer in migration at the Australian National University, said the 485 visa still offered a "window of opportunity" for permanent residency, but it was easier on the 457. "That was a pathway for a lot of people to get into permanent residency – which was probably one of the things that the government was a bit suspicious about," she said.

Last year the Turnbull government slashed the number of occupations eligible for the 457 visa, which this month will be replaced by the similar but stricter temporary Skills Shortage visa.

Of those graduates who were on the increasingly-popular 485 temporary graduate visa, about 6000 transitioned to a skilled migrant visa - a decline of 13.7 per cent on the same period in 2016.

Despite the lure of an Australian job and pathway to permanent residency, Ms Wang noted a large number of foreign students who study in Australia "are wanting to study and then go home".


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