Phil Goldsmith on Violence in Philadelphia’s Schools

ABOUT A MONTH after I became the interim chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia, in 2000, I was greeted with a damaging report by a subcommittee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives detailing rampant violence in the city’s schools. Violence is a serious problem that the district “attempts to downplay, if not conceal,” the report asserted. Now, a decade later, the Philadelphia Inquirer has placed a spotlight on the district once again in an updated and detailed encore, a multipart series on school violence. Reports of violence in the city’s schools aren’t new now, nor were they a decade ago. Three decades ago, a 1980 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin article proclaimed “student beatings are up 24 percent in Philadelphia.”

Zero Tolerance, Zero Common Sense? Author Proposes Widespread School Security Reform

Police officers, armed security guards, surveillance cameras and metal detectors are now commonplace at schools across the country. They go hand in hand with zero tolerance polices adopted by school systems in the wake of highly publicized outbreaks of violence. In a new book, Homeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear author Aaron Kupchik argues that these polices need to be reassessed to include some flexibility and more common sense. Research at four public high schools helped shaped Kupchik’s argument. He compiled more than 100 hours of interviews with students, administrators,  teachers and police officers assigned to each of the schools located in the nation’s Southwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.