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SCARY SCHOOLS: Philly Schools Under Assault

When your kids go to school every day, they’re safe, right?  You pass them off to their teachers, who are in control of the classroom.  Well, in Philadelphia, gangs roam the halls and kids are getting beaten up right in front of their teachers?!  The Philadelphia Inquirer analyzed and investigated 30,000 seriously violent incidents that took place in Philadelphia public schools over the last five years.  Over 1,000 interviews of teachers, students, families, district officials, police and others about the crimes ranging from assault to rape.  “Those interviewed responded to questions about violence and its impact on student’s education.”  What they found was that, “violence worsened during the last three years,”  and that elementary school teachers are as likely as middle school teachers to see bullying, fighting and attacks on students…every day. 

So, how in the world do we expect these kids to learn anything in school?  They are not coming prepared to learn, they’re worried about getting their hair pulled out by the roots if they say or do the wrong thing.  Teachers are not prepared to teach, they are constantly monitoring the physical needs of their students, not their intellectual ones.  Frightening!?!! 

MOMism:  “Shed some light on the subject.”  MAMAs know that the first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge that it exists.  That’s what the Inquirer did for this community.  And, frankly, for those of us who live in a sun shiny bubble.

The Inquirer’s investigative series on the Philadelphia school system has brought to light the problems of violence, both in the schools and neighborhoods surrounding them.  The reporters put a camera and microphone up to a big issue and let us all see and hear the real story. There is nowhere for the schools, teachers, administrators, parents or the rest of us to hide anymore.  This problem is too big and too scary for the solution to be one-dimensional. 

So, now that the light is shining brightly, where do we start?  The school has to provide a safe and secure environment for the kids to thrive. Parents have to do their jobs in getting their kids to school fed and prepared to learn.  Teachers need to plant the seeds of knowledge. And, communities need to come together to clean up the streets, so kids have a safe path home. All these conditions need to be right for kids to learn and grow.  Think of how easily your kids are distracted, with all the right conditions…now throw in the fear factor?!  Super scary.

The news has brought some positive changes to the schools already.  One school, just by making and enforcing an anti-violence policy in the fall of 2010, has started to see positive changes.  The Philadelphia school district has started a program called Focus 46 which now tracks 46 troubled schools and 19 of the most dangerous are closely monitored for violence and safety. 

MAMAs know all kids need a safe, non-violent environment outside of school, as well as in it.  If our kids are the fruits of our labor (literally and figuratively), then we all need to make sure the sun is shining on them – schools and teachers cannot do it alone, Mary Mary quite contrary, we all need to do our part to make the garden grow…and our kids will blossom. 

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