A rising number of Philadelphia schools are labeled “persistently dangerous” – so unsafe that parents have a right to send their children elsewhere, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. A list out yesterday from the Pennsylvania Department of Education shows a 67 percent increase in schools deemed persistently dangerous, a designation under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The 20 schools on the 2008-09 list is up from 12 the previous school year – including a jump in dangerous middle schools from one to six.
Schools that qualify as persistently dangerous must have a certain number of serious incidents – such as assaults – that result in arrest for more than one year. The calculation is based on enrollment. Helen Gym of Parents United for Public Education, maintains that fewer adults – nonteaching assistants, counselors, security staff – in classrooms has caused security to crumble. District officials and the state-appointed safe-schools advocate say that Philadelphia’s schools aren’t necessarily more dangerous but that staff is doing a better job of reporting incidents. “Parents shouldn’t be too shocked by these numbers, because they’re just a better reflection of the truth,” said Jack Stollsteimer, the independent safe-schools advocate.