First Baptist Church of Trenton prayed for two hours after Sunday morning worship late last year about what to do — disband, merge or abandon its cavernous building. A day later, church members say God answered with a resounding, "None of the above."<br>
Muslims joined worshippers of all faiths in St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle's city centre on Wednesday eveningMuslims joined worshippers of all faiths inside a Newcastle cathedral for an historic event as part of the holy month of Ramadan. Hundreds gathered at St Nicholas Cathedral on Wednesday evening for an Iftar – the first time a North East Anglican cathedral has hosted such an event. People from all faiths were welcomed for the celebration of peace and unity to mark the breaking of the fast observed by Muslims during Ramadan. The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Christine Hardman, and Acting…
This spring’s teacher walkouts have spurred renewed attention to the question of teacher pay. The topic is a serious one, warranting the extensive reportage it’s received. At times, however, the media’s progressive sympathies, the allure of hard-luck tales, and concerted PR by teachers’ unions have yielded some questionable coverage. A recent case has been the spate of stories suggesting that teachers routinely reach into their own pockets to spend extraordinary sums on classroom materials.
“There is no other job I know of where the workers subsidize what should be a cost borne by an employer as a necessary ingredient of the job,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has thundered. Numerous recent stories have echoed her sentiment, repeatedly stating that the average teacher spends nearly $500 a year, unreimbursed, on school supplies. “The average teacher spends $479 a year on classroom supplies, national data show,” read a typical headline in Education Week. The Washington Post reported the same finding, in a story headlined “Teachers shelling out nearly $500 a year on school supplies, report finds.” A Time story explained, “Nearly all public school teachers report digging into their pockets to pay for school supplies, spending nearly $480 a year.”
Such claims make for attention-grabbing headlines. But, as with some of the other assertions made in the teacher-pay debate, they can be misleading. It’s less that the coverage is “wrong” than that it’s credulous and sometimes deceptive. So, let’s take a moment to clear things up.
The data in question are drawn from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey, a nationally representative study of teachers and principals in public schools, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Using the survey results, NCES calculated average teacher spending for the 94 percent of teachers who said that they spent money out of pocket — excluding the 6 percent of teachers who did not report such spending, though the coverage frequently skips past that qualifier. (Including those other teachers lowers the average by about $30 a head.)
In reporting the “average” figure, news outlets have made the odd choice to focus on mean spending rather than the more typical median figure. There’s a reason most such data are reported in terms of medians (e.g., “median household income”). The median, after all, is the figure midway between the top and bottom of a distribution, meaning it represents the middle of the pack. A mean, on the other hand, can be dramatically moved by a few outliers. Including Warren Buffet or Bill Gates in a sample of average household income would make the typical household look much wealthier than it really is; similarly, a small number of teachers claiming big outlays can move the mean a lot. Indeed, NCES says that just one in five teachers reported spending more than $500, and the median teacher reported spending $297 — or about 60 percent of the widely quoted $479 figure.
Even these qualifications elide the real concern, however, which is the trouble with placing too much weight on a self-reported figure like this one. Journalists have generally ignored the problem inherent in asking respondents about how much they claim to do a good or noble thing. Self-reporting in such cases is highly susceptible to what social scientists term “social-desirability bias”: the tendency of respondents to say things that cast them (consciously or subconsciously) in a more favorable light. Studies show, for instance, that respondents substantially overestimate the number of days per week that they exercise, claim to watch the news three times as much as they actually do, and dramatically over-report their weekly worship-service attendance.
Now, let’s be clear. We are not suggesting that teachers are lying about their spending. But we are suggesting that, when teachers filled out the survey, precious few probably took the time to comb through twelve months’ worth of receipts and credit-card statements. Most of them probably guesstimated, and it’s safe to assume that their guesstimates tended to be on the high side.
We have no desire to diminish the real sacrifices many educators make, much less to deny that some teachers do indeed dig deep into their own pockets on behalf of their students. Spending even $100 or $200 per year out of pocket, especially for a teacher making $45,000 per year, is a big deal, and we don’t mean to suggest otherwise. But serious conversations about teacher pay should be informed by accurate data and careful analysis. Public deliberations about how much teachers should be paid, and whether raises ought to be funded by new taxes or cuts to other programs, are best served by reporting that meets that standard.
The West likes to think of itself as a truly “peace-loving part of the world”. But is it? You hear it everywhere, from Europe to North America, then to Australia, and back to Europe: “Peace, peace, peace!” It has become a cliché, a catchphrase, a recipe to get funding and sympathy and support. You say peace and you really cannot go wrong. It means that you are a compassionate and reasonable human being. Every year, there are “peace conferences” taking place everywhere where peace is worshiped, and even demanded. I recently attended one, as a keynote speaker, on the west coast of Denmark. If a heavy-duty war correspondent like myself attends them, he or she gets shocked. What is usually discussed are superficial, feel-good topics.
The number of churches grew in 2017 but baptisms and membership declined, according to Southern Baptists’ Annual Church Profile data.
Republicans will be heading to the polls June 12 to select a candidate to take on Senator Tim Kaine this fall. Listen Listening… 3:15 Michael Pope reports Noon mass brings a handful of conservative Catholic Republicans to worship service, where they pray …
Hopewell Cemetery Association will hold its annual memorial meeting Sunday, at Hopewell Baptist Church. Worship services will begin at 10:45 a.m. and the association business meeting begins immediately following the worship service.
Devotions will be held at Woodview at 10:30 a.m. on June 9. First Baptist, News Ferry: Sunday school is held at 9:30 a.m. Morning worship service will be at 11 a.m. with youth recognition during the service. Music will be by the inspirational choir.
I suppose we could revel in the irony, but, as a more results-oriented person, what I take from that vignette is that school walkouts are not effective deterrents to school shootings. I’m not sure the poems did much either.
These are hideous events that require serious proposals, not the self-indulgent mawkishness our media keep serving up.
Here are some news items that might help us figure out how to reduce the number of school shooting victims.
— May 3, 2017, Arlington, Texas: James Jones went to the Zona Caliente sports bar and began yelling incoherently. When the manager, Cesar Perez, went to talk to him and calm him down, Jones pulled out a gun and shot Perez dead, then started shooting wildly at patrons. Luckily, a concealed carry holder happened to be having dinner at Zona Caliente with his wife that night. He shot Jones dead before anyone else was hurt.
— Aug. 7, 2016, Linndale, Ohio: Two men getting into their car in a Dollar Store parking lot were held up by a masked armed robber. As the gunman, Varshaun Stephen Dukes, was rifling through one of the men’s pockets, the other pulled out his concealed handgun and told him to stop. The robber fired at the man but missed. The concealed carry permit holder shot back, putting a .45 bullet in the robber’s brain. (Naturally, he survived.) All of this was captured on the Dollar Store’s surveillance camera, so no charges were brought against the armed citizen.
— June 26, 2016, Lyman, South Carolina: Jody Ray Thompson opened fire in the crowded Playoffz nightclub, injuring three. But before he could kill anyone, he was shot in the leg by a club patron with a concealed carry license. Police arrested Thompson without further incident and no one died.
— July 24, 2014, Darby, Pennsylvania: Felon and psychiatric patient Richard Plotts pulled out a gun at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, murdered his caseworker and wounded his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman. He would have kept shooting — Plotts had 39 more bullets — but the doctor pulled out his own gun and fired back, in violation of the hospital’s no-guns rule. No one else died.
— Jan. 11, 2014, Portland, Oregon: After being turned away from a strip club in Portland, repeat felon Thomas Elliott Hjelmeland came back, wearing a clown mask, guns blazing. He hit a waitress, a security guard and a patron before a bouncer, concealed carry permit holder Jonathan Baer, returned fire and ended the attack. No one died.
— Dec. 16, 2012, San Antonio, Texas: Jesus Manuel Garcia began shooting at the Santikos Mayan Palace movie theater from a nearby restaurant and continued shooting as he walked toward the theater. An armed off-duty cop shot Garcia four times, stopping the attack. No one died.
— March 25, 2018, Boiling Springs, South Carolina: Jesse Gates kicked in a side door of the Southside Freewill Baptist Church during services, raised his gun to shoot — but was grabbed and held at gunpoint by the reverend’s grandson, a concealed carry permit holder. No one was hurt. Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said, “I like the fact that a concealed weapons permit holder was prepared to protect the worshipers.”
It seems like it’s been awhile since we’ve heard of a crazed gunman being quickly disarmed at a school. Maybe because we’ve been trying to stop mass shootings with gun-free school zones.
Here are some older school shooting cases that had comparatively happy endings.
— In 2001, 15-year-old Charles Williams tried to shoot up his high school in Santee, California, but luckily, an off-duty cop happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day. He ended Williams’ rampage with his own gun, holding him until more police arrived. Two fatalities.
— In 1998, a 14-year-old student began shooting up a school dance being held at a restaurant in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The restaurant owner pulled out a shotgun, keeping the death toll to one.
— In 1997, a student shot several people at his high school in Pearl, Mississippi, killing two, and was headed to the junior high, until assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a .45 pistol from his car and pointed it at the gunman’s head. Another massacre averted.
— In 1993, student Mark Duong pulled out a gun during his disciplinary hearing at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, wounding three people, including the police officer, who, luckily, had been asked to attend the hearing. The officer immediately shot the psychotic student dead, saving the lives of everyone in the room.
We can try the walkouts, rallies, moments of silence, media adulation, poems and fist salutes. But if the full arsenal of liberal disapprobation doesn’t stop schizophrenics from going on shooting sprees, concealed carry laws will at least save a lot of lives.
EXCLUSIVE: Given the rash of mass shootings in this country of late with students and teachers being killed both in Santa Fe, TX and in Parkland, FL, Universal Studios has opened up its backlot for First Responders to conduct active shooter training drills. The moves are part of overall security measures that has come in the wake of so many mass shootings over the years that can and have happened literally everywhere: in a mall , a theater , outside a grocery store , a nail salon , a place of worship , an outdoor concert venue , a nightclub , office buildings , and numerous high schools, colleges and elementary schools .