Philly Lets Students Leave Perilous Schools

Officials say reports of violence are rising, not the incidence of crime.
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Aug 28, 2008 3:09 PM CDT
Erica Weltz, 23, takes her kids to school in Pennsylvania.   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Twenty schools in Philadelphia are so “persistently dangerous” that the state is giving students the right to go elsewhere, reports the Inquirer. This figure is nearly double last year’s and includes a bump from one middle school to six, according to a list released yesterday by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. But state officials said the number shouldn't cause alarm because schools aren’t any worse than before—staff simply got better at reporting crimes.

The Philly district won a $42 million grant this year to stem violence, decrease dropout rates, and boost achievement in seven "dangerous" schools—defined as having a certain rate of arrests for more than 1 year running, based on the size of the student body. A parent rep hopes this includes more adults in classrooms, so kids can stay put. “Parents’ options are very limited,” she said. “It’s difficult to transfer out to a safe place.”