Trends in Ed:School Violence

| April 1, 2011

This week the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a 7 part series, titled “Assault on Learning,” exposing a “climate of violence” within Philadelphia city schools.  The newspaper’s yearlong investigation has revealed that there are, on average, 25 (reported) violent incidents occurring at school, every day, in Philadelphia.   The majority of these incidents were assaults, and students were not the only victims.

The bare statistics are disturbing enough, but the stories related offer a heartbreaking depiction of the anarchy and danger students and teacher confront on a daily basis.

All told, the chaos and violence reported may be as strong a factor in holding students back as anything more directly related to the educational process.  Students are unable to learn when class is being disrupted or when they are constantly afraid, and there is even evidence to suggest that (in confirmation of the age-old trope of high-school movies) higher achieving students are specifically targeted.  Reducing violence looks like it should be a high priority for anyone concerned about student achievement.