School Safety: Why Parents Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

Posted by on September 1, 2010

Utah school crime data is riddled with inaccuracies, according to a recent Salt Lake Tribune newspaper story.   The bottom line:  Parents don’t know what they don’t know about school safety — and nobody is rushing to tell them!

The problem is not limited to Utah.  It is a national problem I have documented for years on my web site page on school crime underreporting.

While the U.S. Department of Education loves to say that school crime has declined since 1992, the reality is there is no federal mandatory K-12 school crime reporting.  In other words, there is no national collection of law enforcement data of crimes at K-12 schools. 

Their claim is based on an annual effort to assemble a hodgepodge collection of academic surveys which the Department of Education tries to pull together into one report.  The problem is this federal report tends to be filled with disclaimers, and you can’t make an “apples to apples” comparison.  It’s a good attempt, but the writers can only work with what they have available and what they have is not top quality.  And the Department of Education shows no interest in incorporating law enforcement data any time in the future.

So what does the Department of Education now want?  Answer:  More surveys.  Now they want to spend $410 million a year to incorporate widespread “climate” surveys nationwide. If that’s not bad enough, they also want to create school safety “scores” for individual schools based on the results of these climate surveys. 

Stay tuned…this can only get more interesting.

Ken Trump

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