Archive: September, 2010
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The Philadelphia School District has seen more than its share of plans to fix an ailing system. Too many have produced disappointing results. Let’s hope the latest plan to address school violence contains more than fancy buzzwords, and actually produces real results.
The plan, unveiled last week, would target 46 problem-plagued and persistently dangerous city schools. It is a much-needed attempt to change the climate in schools, where troublemakers have been allowed to run amok. But the “Focus 46” plan has some shortcomings and may need fine-tuning. Some critics want a bolder approach that targets troubled students and their families. Nevertheless, the plan provides a chance for the district to send a strong message that violence will not be tolerated.
Violence is a daily problem at many city schools and undermines broader efforts to improve learning. Dozens of criminal offenses — some involving guns, knives, and sexual attacks — take place throughout the district every day. That’s inexcusable. A disproportionate number of the district’s violent incidents occur at the 46 targeted schools. Nearly half of the schools are on the state’s list of persistently dangerous schools. Putting more attention and resources at those schools to crack down on violence, disciplinary problems, and truants makes sense. That must include better monitoring and reporting — which means that principals and teachers must give an honest account of incidents at their schools.
Carl R. Greene got himself fired. Period.
But a host of enablers either failed to investigate, looked the other way, or engaged in a years-long conspiracy to hide allegations that he sexually harassed women.
Greene denies any wrongdoing. But an internal investigation by the Philadelphia Housing Authority board found Greene was “a serial sexual harasser” who “mentally tortured, physically assaulted, and professionally damaged” at least four female employees.
The failure of the Senate to repeal the military’s policy banning gays was another missed opportunity to conquer prejudice. By a 56-43 vote along party lines, Republicans on Tuesday managed to block consideration of a bill that would void the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that has little validity in today’s Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines.
Proponents of “don’t ask” may have won that round, but they are losing ground against a growing mood that indicates the country is ready to overturn an unfair policy that discriminates against homosexuals and lesbians who want to serve their country.
Gay-rights advocates are justifiably frustrated by yet another delay in repealing the 17-year-old policy. President Obama promised after his election to make overturning it a priority, but progress has been disappointing.
A state Senate measure that passed its first legislative hurdle this week could help thwart a repeat of the two upstate Pennsylvania judges accused of railroading hundreds of teens in a prison kickback scheme.
Under legislation sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R., Luzerne), teens would be required to have lawyers in juvenile courts across the state, with counties providing attorneys for defendants who could not afford to pay.
The measure was approved 13-1 on Tuesday by the Senate’s judiciary committee.