The Dept. of Education Can’t Count, Produces Wildly Overstated School Shooting Statistic

Department of education School Shootings


The US Department on Education — a federal agency with no clear purpose or need — conducts something called the Civil Rights Data Collection survey every two years. They ask all 96,000 public schools around the country hundreds of questions about all aspects of their operations, ostensibly to better craft education policy. They’ve just published the results of the survey for the 2015-2016 school year and one of the questions in the survey involves shootings in schools.

As NPR reports,

In the 2015-2016 school year, (they asked) “Has there been at least one incident at your school that involved a shooting (regardless of whether anyone was hurt)?”

The answer — “nearly 240 schools (0.2 percent of all schools)” — was published this spring.

There’s one problem. That total is orders of magnitude more than any other similar survey of shooting incidents in US schools found in other surveys. Even the fabulists at Everytown for Gun Safety only claim 29 school shootings during the same period.

So the notorious gun industry shills at NPR set out to confirm the CRDC’s result.

…NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

Dept of Education School Shootings


Take, for instance, one California district that, according to the CRDC, was a virtual shooting gallery in 2015-2016.

Most of the school leaders NPR reached had little idea of how shootings got recorded for their schools.

For example, the CRDC reports 26 shootings within the Ventura Unified School District in Southern California.

“I think someone pushed the wrong button,” said Jeff Davis, an assistant superintendent there. The outgoing superintendent, Joe Richards, “has been here for almost 30 years and he doesn’t remember any shooting,” Davis added.

Did someone in the Department of Education have a political agenda and intentionally inflate the results of the survey? We’re dealing with government bureaucrats here on both ends of the survey, which means Hanlon’s razor is always at play: never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Case in point: the results for Cleveland.

The biggest discrepancy in sheer numbers was the 37 incidents listed in the CRDC for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Roseann Canfora, the district’s chief communications officer, told us that, in fact, 37 schools reported “possession of a knife or a firearm,” which is the previous question on the form.

The number 37, then, was apparently entered on the wrong line.

And as always, garbage in, garbage out.

Similarly, the CRDC lists four shootings among the 16 schools of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California. Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the district, says that “going back 20-plus years,” no one can remember any incident involving a firearm. Their best guess, she says, is that there was some kind of mistake in coding, where an incident involving something like a pair of scissors (California Education Code 48915[c][2]), for example, got inflated into one involving a firearm (48915[c][1]).


The CRDC shows seven shootings in DeKalb County, Ga. Police reports provided to us by that district give a sense of more of the many, many ways the data collection may have gone wrong.

At Redan Middle School, there is a report of a toy cap gun fired on a school bus — not a shooting.

The CRDC shows a shooting at Stone Mountain Middle School, but a police report shows an incident at Stone Mountain High School instead.

The NPR report also points out a number of ways the wording of the survey itself is confusing and inconsistencies in how various states and districts account for incidents. They also point out that 240 out of 96,000 is well within the margin of error.

A number of districts have tried to correct the data they reported, but the DoE says they won’t be republishing the results.

Give credit to NPR for going to the time and expense to troubleshoot this obviously broken process and the wildly over-inflated “statistic” that it produced. In the mean time, if you see someone on the anti-gun side spout that ludicrous 240 school shootings in one year number, you’ll know where it came from. And who to thank for it.





  1. avatar Cruzo1981 says:

    Dumbocrats gotta dumb…

    1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      When you tell so many lies it is sometime hard to remember which lie you told… 😉

  2. avatar ThisEnd^ says:

    And “Who’s” the Secretary of the US Department of Education? Becky DeVos, a Donald Trump appointee…

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      If Trump didn’t really nickname her “Ditzy DeVos,” perhaps he should.

      1. avatar David K says:

        Obama was in office, not Trump, or Betsy DeVoss.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          I believe DeVos was nominated because of her advocacy for elimination of DOE, which has no purpose or need, and has demonstrably accomplished nothing at all, but has a $74 BILLION/year funding.

    2. avatar David K says:

      You do realize that 2015-16 were obamas school years, Trump didn’t take office until January 2017. So you need to rethink your comment.

      1. avatar ThisEnd^ says:

        And Who within the DoE compiled the 2015 Information to be used for the 2018 publication. And passed it under the Nose of Becky DeVos and ultimately the President of the United States unnoticed…

        1. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

          It’s a deep swamp. It takes more than a day, or even a year, to drain it. Heck, it took generations for it to fill up in the first place.

        2. avatar ThisEnd^ says:

          Or unless Becky DeVos didn’t have a Clue to What the Information actually meant and Rubber Stamped anyway…

        3. avatar CC says:

          DeVos had nothing to do with this study done under Obama. She can’t nix publication of an ordered study.

    3. avatar jwm says:

      ThisEnd. Another bitter clinger. hillary lost. Get over it. 2020 will also be the year of the Trump.

      1. avatar ThisEnd^ says:

        Didn’t vote for her. I was Stupid like YOU and voted for Donald Trump instead…

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Sure. Pull the other one. It has bells.

        2. avatar CC says:

          The study was ordered under Obama’s DoE. Neither Trump nor DeVoss could nix it.

    4. avatar CC says:

      The survey was done under Obama’s tenure

    5. avatar joefoam says:

      The survey was taken in 2016 prior to Trump being elected and DeVos being appointed. Seem you need to attend school yourself.

      1. You might want to read the last paragraph of the “Amended” Dickey Act on Wikipedia !/? The rules were changed for the CDC on Researching Gun Violence (i.e. Omnibus Funding) and past into Law by Donald Trump himself in March 2018. This is what happens when you have a Fool For A President, that Doesn’t Read Anything…

        1. avatar Tom says:

          It was the CRDC who did the report, NOT the CDC. Big difference.

        2. Either way. the CDC is no longer restricted in Gun Violence Research and Publications…

  3. avatar anonymoose says:

    NPR debunking bogus gun violence stats? Is it Opposite Day?

  4. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

    “The US Department on Education — a federal agency with no clear purpose or need…”

    Oh, please.

    It’s (special) purpose is to make sure everyone is on the same page when ‘teaching’ the Leftist propaganda…

    1. avatar Ing says:

      That’s what I was going to say. If your purpose is to make sure the leftist revolution keeps progressing, you absolutely do need a national department of education.

  5. avatar m. says:

    dept. of edufecation is entire superfluous, but elimination might disproportionately affect selected demonrat-groups, so probably not going to be flushed

  6. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    sprocket once posted, “npr is a soothing balm for white guilt.”
    i’m surprised they derailed something right in their wheelhouse.

  7. avatar W says:

    Little known factoids. Education majors enter college with the lowest SATs. The leave with among the highest GPAs.

    “Research over the years has indicated that education majors, who enter college with the lowest average SAT scores, leave with the highest grades. Some of academic evidence documenting easy A’s for future teachers goes back more than 50 years!”

    Now remember, if you meet Jill Biden, remember to call her “Doctor Biden.”

    1. avatar Ing says:

      My brother and I were consultants at student writing labs in two very different places — he was at a large public university in Utah, while I was at a small private university in Oregon — where we saw a wide cross-section of the college student population. We both noticed that education majors and (ironically) communication majors were overrepresented in the ranks of the dim and bewildered.

      There are a lot of good teachers in the ranks, but as a general rule, our children are not being taught by the best and brightest.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I retired from a school district. Not a teacher. I noticed first off that teachers, as a rule, do follow that old ‘those who can, do, those who can’t teach’ pattern.

        And when the economy takes a dip you get a lot of failed private sector types flocking to the teaching positions. Its always with the ‘I want to give something back to the community’ excuse. They aren’t and they don’t.

        Add to their poor performance is the fact that I’ve known several teachers, male and female, that left in cuffs for having sex with their students.

        The federal level DOE needs to be done away with. Schools should absolutely be under local control.

  8. avatar PeterK says:

    What you wanna bet I’ll be seeing these numbers as truth in my facebook feed soon, though. :p

  9. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    And they want us to pay for “research” when they produce crap like this. When NPR is pointing out the stupidity in the facts of your liberal oriented agenda you’ve got problems.

  10. avatar Geoff says:

    Even the Left Leaning Mother Jones has mass shootings correct, and IIRC there are 66 or 67 school shootings in the entire list. 1982-2018

  11. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    Home schools, maybe???? LOL

  12. avatar Alan says:

    They refrain from or are unable to educate too, which might be worse.

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