Monday, December 24, 2012

Did 1994 Assault Weapons Ban save thousands of children?

Child & Teen Gun Death Record in US 1979 to 2009
(Right-click and hit open link to enlarge.)

It is obvious above that during the years the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect that children's deaths by gun went down in the United States. While this correlation does not necessarily mean that the Weapons Ban was the cause for the decrease in deaths, it certainly does indicate that more research is needed.   Sadly, due to pressure from the National Rifle Association, federal funding for research related to gun violence was stopped in 1996. 
That situation has now changed. On Jan. 16, 2013, President Obama rallied the nation behind a gun control agenda and issued 23 “executive actions.”  Ultimately the most powerful may be the renewal of federal funding of research into the dynamics surrounding gun violence in the US.  
Deaths by gun are slowly surpassing automobile accidents as a leading cause of death. This has already happened in ten states.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Child Safety

Time to turn around & look at gun safety

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cutting firearm deaths of children in half!

From 1994 to 2004 firearm deaths of children and teens were almost cut in half.  
Firearm Deaths of Children & Teens, 1979-2006
Right-click above image & hit open link to enlarge.

We cannot ignore this pattern and say we are working to better protect our children from the next time!  See details about the above graph at .  We cannot ignore what it shows!

Protecting children from guns

The tragedy in Newtown Connecticut on Friday 12/14/12 was a national disaster. A disordered young 20 year old man killed his mother at home and took her semi-automatic guns to a nearby elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them being first graders!

We must ask how often a gun having the feature of being semi-automatic helps save the life of a child. Then we must ask how often it costs the life of a child. This Friday, if the guns used were not semi-automatic, it is very possible some of the 20 children may have lived, as well as some of the adults. The young man may not even have attempted what he did.

There was a period from 1994 to 2004 when progress in protecting children from guns in the U.S. was constant and significant.  The child death rate by guns was almost cut in half! 
Firearm Deaths of Children & Teens, 1979-2006
Right-click above image & hit open link to enlarge.
Can we ignore this pattern and say we are working to better protect our children? The chart below is another different view of similar statistics during these same general years.

To honor the memory of the children who died Friday in Newton, Connecticut we also cannot ignore the facts related in this article from Australia, and the chart below. After a massive shooting in 1996 they enacted restrictions against semi-automatic weapons and started a weapon buy-back program.  

The United States has about 32,000 gun related deaths annually, or about 10 for every 100,000 population. While car-related deaths have been more numerous in the past, that is slowly changing due to constant improvements in car safety. This changing pattern was seen by the fact that in 2009 there were already 10 states wherein the death rate by guns was higher than the death rate by cars:
Ten states with higher death rate by gun than by car
Right-click above image & open link to enlarge above chart.
Please note that while the majority of car related deaths are accidental, the large majority of gun related deaths are intentional, either suicides or homicides.

"Strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Klyde Warren Park & History

Klyde Warren Park rests in the center of one of the areas of Dallas most rich with history that is undocumented, but many who lived that history are still with us.
Klyde Warren Park once was part of "Little Mexico"
(Right click & hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

The 1944 map above, from the Dallas Public Library, shows the area now occupied by Klyde Warren Park as it existed 68 years ago. This park is a very positive addition to our city! It's another opportunity to remember the powerful history of Dallas.  Dallas must take every chance to connect our students to their own history. Every park is such an opportunity.

Klyde Warren Park is built on land that at one time was known as "Little Mexico," the large blue area outlined above on the map.

On the other side of Pearl, northeast from Klyde Warren Park, is land that was known as "North Dallas Freedman's Town", or the "State-Thomas Neighborhood." It is the large red area in the center of the above map, almost cut in half by the Houston Texas Central Rail Road, now Central Expressway.

Many of our ancestors who lived on the land outlined in this 1944 map are still living.  We need to record their stories before all living memory of Little Mexico and North Dallas Freedman's Town is also gone - like the homes, churches, schools and stores replaced long ago.  Such research projects by students could help personal connections to history come alive!

The high traffic, high visibility, Klyde Warren Park should include celebrations and historical markers pointing to Dallas History, especially the history of the land and surrounding area. Tens of thousands of DISD students have connections to that land. Such connections help students envision their own futures in our city. They enhance educational success.  A lived connection to history helps students find the direction and energy needed to engage themselves in study toward a more positive future.

(The above map can be enlarged to study in more detail.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Dallas

This week U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was in Dallas. A powerful and positive Q & A was published in this mornings Dallas  Morning News at .  It is the  most encouraging thinking on education I have read in a long time. Duncan says some things that may be hard for DISD and Texas to take.

He says:
"You have to listen. I think there’s an amazing vision that the mayor and superintendent are putting together. But if it’s the mayor’s vision or the superintendent’s vision or it’s the board’s vision, frankly, I don’t think you get there. But if it is the teachers’ vision, if it is the principals’ vision, the parents’ vision or the kids’ vision — it takes a lot of time."
A book could be written on this critical issue alone. DISD must not only listen but demonstrate consistently that they are hearing what is being said, even by students, and putting it into action. If the input is not used, then why not - it takes a lot of time.

Secretary Duncan, DISD Board Chair Dr. Blackburn, and Mayor Rawlings are standing in front of the Pinkston School Archive.  It may lead to the most consistent and powerful educational vision possible, one formed from the annual feedback of former students.

Arne Duncan also said in this interview:
"... how many ninth-graders does the state have, and how many 12th-graders does the state have? I don’t have my numbers in front of me, but I think the state has something like 400,000 ninth-graders and something like 300,000 12th-graders. That’s a 100,000 spread. So every single year, this state — and it’s not unique in this challenge — but every single year, this state is losing 100,000 kids from its schools to its streets."
Secretary Duncan was correct in his numbers. The exact numbers for 2011/12 were 393,553 9th graders and 298,379 12th graders. Only 75.8% of our Texas 9th grade enrollment is reflected in our statewide 12th grade enrollment.  Here are the same enrollment comparisons for the non-magnet high schools in Dallas ISD:
Dallas ISD Comprehensive (non-magnet) High School Enrollment as of 10-23-12
(Right-click on above image & select "open link" to see larger copy.)
Notice the wonderful fact that DISD numbers are not far from the Texas State numbers.  DISD has a 12th grade enrollment of 73% of the 9th grade enrollment compared to all of Texas having 75.8%!  DISD has made monumental progress! 

Just 6 years ago this 73% number for DISD would have been only 49.3%!  DISD in 2005/06 had 14,680 9th graders, but only 7,238 12th graders! This enrollment pattern was decades old at the time! The 12th grade enrollment was only 49.3% of the 9th grade enrollment!   DISD then started monumental progress leading to the current 73% number!  For now DISD can celebrate being the most improved urban school system in the US, but the progress must continue!  Secretary Duncan was wise to point out this measurement during his visit to Dallas. It reflects very well on Dallas ISD.
However, all of Texas is not improving as fast as Dallas. In 2005/06 Texas had 392,051 9th graders but only 65% of that, or 256,799 in the 12th grade. Now the 12th grade in Texas is up to 75.8% of the 9th grade number.  This is about a 10 percentage point improvement for Texas compared with a 24 percentage point improvement for Dallas ISD.

This also points to the sad irony in Texas somehow claiming this past week in the news to have one of the 10 best graduation rates in the nation: . Texas claimed a graduation rate of 86% for the Class of 2011. The Texas Class of 2008 was claimed to have a graduation rate of 67% according to this study:

How can the Texas Class of 2011 have a graduation rate of 86% when an average of 24% of 9th grade enrollment, that became the Class of 2011, disappeared before graduation?  Only 87.7% of that 9th grade class even made it to enroll in the 10th grade!  Fourty states are not loosing more students than Texas before 12th grade! Texas is trying to pull off another "Texas Miracle" math exercise.  Such manipulation is sadly familiar. See

Arne Duncan made many very good and painful points this last week. He gives evidence of being data driven. When will Texas do the same?  There are indications that Dallas ISD may be leading the way, but only if we can continue the progress that was happening up to 2011/12.