keeping the pressure on the philadelphia school district

Check out Helen Gym's latest blog post for Young Philly Politics, with the latest updates about what's going on at South Philadelphia High School: South Philly High six months later: What still needs work.

The School District of Philadelphia has recently made a heavy media push, trying to remake its image and bury past woes under the rug. The District insists that the December 3 attacks are ancient history, and it's time to move on. And they're using statistics:
The latest push has been to use statistics. According to today's Philadelphia Inquirer story, the District claims that last school year there were 92 assaults total; this year 44. From January-May, there were 70 assaults reported; this year only 15.

Anyone who's been watching the story knows that the District's numbers have constantly shifted. For example, the District's own website here shows that Southern had well over 100 assaults last school year, not 92.

In the days following the December 3 attacks the District told media outlets that minor skirmishes had happened off campus and that violence was down at the school. They later corrected that statement to say that violence at the school had spiked 32% from September through November. The December 3 violence alone - in which at least 26 Asian students were beaten and 13 sent to the hospital - accounts for more than half the incidents the District counts for the year. It seems pretty astounding to therefore claim that this school year has been a better and safer one than last year.

In the months since December 3, the District has waged a deliberate campaign to misrepresent the situation at South Philadelphia High School - from a widely rebutted $100,000 report to unsubstantiated allegations about gangs to retaliation against student victims to hurtful implications that student victims aren't the "real face" of South Philadelphia High.
It's outrageous how little the school district seems to care for its own students, and has instead considerable effort to cover its own ass. Until recently neither the school nor the District had made any effort to reach out to Asian immigrant students and families, nor has anyone responded to community members who have made repeated requests to meet about on-going physical and verbal harassment at South Philly High.

While Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and the Philadelphia School District would love to just conveniently put all this behind them and pretend all is well, there is still a great deal that needs to be done at South Philly High -- significant steps that will address the root of the problem, and not just a cosmetic bandage. Read Helen's blog post here.

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