January 19, 2007

Truth in reporting: School safety statistics

Posted in School safety in other places, Statistics and reporting, Student safety, Student violence at 7:10 pm by madisonparent

No Child Left Behind currently requires states to identify schools that are found to be “persistently dangerous,” but, as USA Today reports (“Program to Identify Most Dangerous Schools Misses Mark,” January 18, 2006):

What’s evolved, safety experts say, is a system where states have made it very hard for schools to be classified as unsafe and schools can report incidents as they see fit. [….]

The stigma of a “persistently dangerous” label is enough to keep most schools from being completely honest, said Beverly Caffee Glenn, executive director of the Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“There’s realty prices to be considered. Would you want to move into a school district where you knew it was unsafe?” said Glenn, referring to the importance schools have on home values. “There’s also the issue: Do you want to be the principal of a school where you can’t control your kids?”

One solution for this problem may be further legislation, like the recently introduced SAVE Act. Or perhaps the better solution is school leadership that does the job and tells the truth, like Philadelphia’s Paul Vallas:

Paul Vallas, who once ran Chicago’s school system, says at least a few of that city’s schools should be tagged as dangerous. As Philadelphia’s current school system chief, Vallas has directed schools to report any serious incident that happens on school grounds — no matter the time or day. They also must report any incident involving a student traveling to and from school.

The result: 29 different city schools have made the list since 2002-03, though only nine are still on the list. No district has logged more.

“I would rather be aggressive about identifying schools that do not have satisfactory school climates rather than somehow try to get around the mandate because other states aren’t being aggressive about enforcing the mandate or setting the standard,” he said.




1 Comment »

  1. […] for Ideas and Discussion” to focus on its reporting on school safety issues (including the recent feature from its partner USA Today on the inconsistent standards for identifying “persistently […]

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