getting to the truth behind the south philly high attacks

If you're in Philadelphia, you might have seen this front page Philadelphia Inquirer story on the December 3 violence targeting Asian students at South Philadelphia High School: Adults' confusion, missteps detailed.

It details a daylong series of bad decisions on the part of administrators on how to handle the situation. Basically, "grown-ups" let the students down.

For some more insight, and an effort to get at the truth behind the violence, take a look at this piece by Helen Gym at the Philadelphia Public School Notebook: S. Philly High violence: Time to clear the record about Dec. 2.

Helen calls on Philadelphia school superintendent Arlene Ackerman to apologize for promoting the false rumor that Asian kids attacked a disabled African American student the day before, allegedly prompting the December 3 attacks.

This rumor has been perpetuated through multiple media outlets and has created confusion, heightened racial tension and fueled suspicion in the community. But the District's investigation proved that the allegation was just a rumor. Ackerman's inaction regarding this matter is completely irresponsible:
Maybe the place to really start is back with the Superintendent. If after three months a judge charged to investigate an incident can’t figure out what happened on Dec. 2, then we know that the Superintendent couldn’t possibly have substantiated her allegation six days after the attacks occurred. And if she didn’t know if her accusation was true, then why did she say it?

The report raises the likelihood that there’s a totally different version of events than the one Dr. Ackerman put out - that it was in fact Asian immigrant kids who were beaten. It would seem imperative to call for a response from the superintendent who uttered the accusation in the first place. After all, one of the concerns of the Giles report is how innuendos and gossip and misunderstanding fueled part of the violence. So how can the superintendent stand by remarks which spread all of that gossip and misunderstanding into the broader community?

Thus far, Dr. Ackerman has taken a convenient “case closed, move forward” approach. It’s convenient because it doesn’t accept her role in fanning the flames and heightening confusion and suspicion through hearsay and rumor rather than encouraging a thorough inquiry into what led up to the attacks.
Read the Philadelphia Inquirer article here, then read Helen's piece here.

angry archive