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February 2013 Vol. 20. No. 4 Focus on A Downsizing District

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Playing with fire

Many warn that the plan to close 37 schools could spark violence between youth from rival neighborhoods.

By by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news Partner on Jan 31, 2013 07:39 AM
Photo: Emma Lee/NewsWorks

“All I see is the possibility of somebody getting killed,” says Reggie Hall, a violence prevention expert in Northwest Philadelphia. Shown here on Germantown Avenue, Hall was speaking of the District’s proposal to close Germantown High School and send hundreds of students to nearby Martin Luther King.

Brickyard. Dogtown. Haines Street. Somerville.

For thousands of teens in Northwest Philadelphia, the names signify a potent mix of neighborhood loyalty, turf rivalry, and gang conflict that has been passed down for generations.

Take Dayton Melton.

The 15-year-old hails from Brickyard, in lower Germantown. 

Melton says he’s fought kids from Somerville, on the other side of Chew Avenue, dozens of times.

The first fight happened when he was 6.

“Some boy started poppin’ fly, like ‘Y’all from Brickyard, why you down here?’ So my cousin, he just hit him,” said Melton.

That’s just the way things are, he said.

“Brickyard and Somerville, they been through it, they going through it, and they gonna keep going through it.”

For decades, that mindset has helped fuel violent neighborhood beefs across Philadelphia. 

Now the District wants to close 37 schools, making those rivalries a major source of concern. Officials say the unprecedented downsizing will save $28 million per year and allow the District to improve the schools that remain. But to make their plan work, thousands of students will be forced to cross turf boundaries, then sit in class alongside neighborhood adversaries.

Many in the city are questioning how school closings will impact academics, budgets, teachers, and surrounding communities. But the overriding concern has been safety. 

In Northwest Philly, Germantown High would be closed. Hundreds of teens from Brickyard, Somerville, and at least half a dozen other neighborhoods would be thrust together inside Martin Luther King High. 

Strawberry Mansion, Vaux, University City, and Bok Technical high schools would also be closed, creating similar dynamics in North, West, and South Philly. 

“It’s a potential powder keg,” said Kelley Hodge, Philadelphia’s safe schools advocate. 

District officials downplay such concerns, saying today’s neighborhood rivalries don’t compare to the gang warfare of the 1970s. 

“I am not saying that conflicts don’t exist,” said Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey, the head of the District’s office of school safety. “It doesn’t mean that we have to accept them.”

But in barbershops and rec centers, on street corners and inside law enforcement circles, people in Northwest Philly are nervous.

They warn that almost anything can ignite neighborhood feuds.

And they accuse the District of failing to recognize that it’s about to create the biggest spark in decades.

“The School District has not put together a strategy to prevent young people from responding violently to each other,” said Malik Aziz, a Philadelphia-based gang specialist and trainer for the National Gang Crime Research Center.

A question of numbers?

Waterview Recreation Center is located a couple of blocks from Germantown High.

On a chilly January evening, the center’s 16-and-under basketball team trekked up Haines Street for a game against Simons Recreation Center.

Simons is near King High.

With under five minutes to go, the game was tied. A Simons player leveled a Waterview player with a hard foul.

Nothing happened. 

After the game, players casually slapped hands.

Times have changed, said Waterview’s Khalil Billa.

“Back then, you could say it was ‘hood wars,” said Billa, 14. “But now, it’s not really nothing.”

District officials agree.

William Wade, the second-year principal at King, swears the Brickyard-Haines Street-Somerville battles that scarred Northwest Philly 40 years ago are no longer an issue inside his building.

“When the gang warfare was happening, Germantown probably had close to 4,000 students, and King probably had close to 3,000 students,” said Wade. “We just don’t have those numbers any more.”

Enrollment drain is one of the major reasons the two schools are slated to merge. 

Roughly 6,300 public high school students live in the combined attendance zone of Germantown and King. More than 5,000 attend charters, selective admission schools, or schools in other neighborhoods. 

Including Dayton Melton.

If Germantown is closed, Melton won’t be “reppin’ Brickyard” inside King next year. He already opted out of his neighborhood school to attend Roxborough High.

“I just wanted to avoid problems,” said Melton.

Under the District’s school closing plan, current Germantown students will be given the option to attend either Roxborough or King. Some will likely apply for special admission schools or charters. 

King’s total enrollment probably won’t exceed 1,600.

Wade isn’t losing any sleep.

“I know we can handle it,” he said.

Hatfields and McCoys

Then why are so many others so worried?

Driving through Germantown, Reggie Hall stops on the 5200 block of West Clarkson Street. 

He nods toward a boarded-up brick row home.

The letters “TBK” are spray-painted on the wall.

“Terrace Born Killers,” says Hall.

It’s one of at least eight neighborhood-based gangs in the area.

For almost a decade, Hall has been a community support specialist for the city’s Town Watch Integrated Services. He works Northwest Philly, defusing potentially violent conflicts when he can, intervening afterwards when he can’t.

Navigating the neighborhoods around Germantown and King, he points out otherwise invisible turf boundaries.

“Once you cross over this stoplight, you’re in Somerville territory,” Hall says at the corner of Wister Street and Chew Avenue.

“This is the part of the city that I grew up in.”

Now 45, it’s Hall’s job to know what’s happening in the streets he used to run.

He says that Terrace Born Killers, Haines Street Hustlers, Dogtown Hustlers, and Brickyard Mafia claim turf below Chew Avenue, in Germantown.

The streets above Chew, in West Oak Lane and East Mount Airy, are home to Somerville, Bad Company, Bad Intentions, Goonies, and 1-4. Somerville itself is comprised of shifting factions like Bottomside, Topside, and Homicide Squad.

It’s not like Chicago, where gangs are large and highly organized. To prevent more violence, that city’s Commission on School Utilization recently recommended against closing any more high schools.

But Philadelphia’s neighborhood-based “cliques” or “crews” will fight – and shoot – to protect their turf and reputation. 

“It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys,” said Hall.

“A lot of people don’t understand. But when you’ve been in the trenches, you know.”Terrace Born Killers

A precedent at Roosevelt

On the record, police officials in the Northwest discuss the problem cautiously.

“The bottom line is if they identify as a gang, we have a potential issue,” says John Fleming, the captain of the 14th Police District.

On background, law enforcement sources confirm that the groups identified by Hall are an active, if disorganized, threat to public safety.

“They deal drugs for sneakers and food,” said one source who was not authorized to talk with reporters. “The [kids] still in school are loosely affiliated. They claim the [gang moniker] so no one messes with them.”

Everyone agrees the groups are responsible for many of the 339 juvenile assaults and five juvenile shootings in the 14th District last year. 

Everyone agrees that things have been pretty quiet recently. 

And everyone agrees it won’t take much to start up a new round of violence.

“It can go haywire at any time,” said Aziz, the gang specialist.

That’s why the District’s school-closings plan has people on edge.

They worry that sending hundreds of kids from Germantown into King will mean more frequent interactions between the groups.

And they fear the merger will provoke all the groups below Chew Avenue to join forces for protection, prompting the groups above Chew to respond in kind. 

Hall says that’s what happened in 2007, after the District closed Ada Lewis Middle School.

The majority of the Ada Lewis students were from Somerville.

They were sent into Roosevelt Middle School, where the kids mostly lived in Brickyard, Haines Street, and Dogtown.

That year, Roosevelt’s enrollment went up 39 percent.

Reported serious incidents went up 144 percent.

Reported assaults on students and staff went up 143 percent.

“Kids would just randomly walk into classrooms and start fights,” said Donald Malcolm, a 15-year Roosevelt veteran and the school’s current dean of students. 

“A lot of kids got jumped after school. There were large fights in the middle of Washington Lane. It was a big mess.” 

District light on details

Asked what they learned from Roosevelt, District officials had no answer.

“For that, I wasn’t at the School District,” said Chief Inspector Dorsey, who has been on the job for three months.

Asked which on-the-ground experts District officials are consulting as they prepare to send roughly 500 Germantown

students into King, Dorsey struggled to give specifics.

“I have reached out to folks. We need to do more of it. Especially in the high schools,” she said. 

Dorsey, a 28-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, is not unaware of the city’s gang problem. 

She said the District asked the department’s criminal intelligence units to review each proposed school closing, then report on possible gang and neighborhood conflicts that could be sparked.

The District would not release the intelligence report on Germantown and King.

There is little evidence it has informed any nuts-and-bolts planning at the schools.

King’s principal said he hasn’t had any formal meetings about the potential influx of Germantown students.

“It’s on our agenda,” said Wade. 

When the time comes, said Wade, his strategy will likely focus on academics, including expanded opportunities for disruptive students.

Eventually, his team will suggest how to create safe corridors to and from school. He hopes to contract with outside mentoring groups and hire more conflict-resolution specialists.

Wade doesn’t know any details about what resources he’ll be provided to make his plan work.

He said preparations will pick up in March or April, after the School Reform Commission votes on the final school-closing recommendations. 

“I think it would be very disrespectful to plan full speed ahead when the final decision hasn’t been made yet.”

How to do it right

As many as 17,000 city students could be assigned to new schools next September.

Thousands more will deal with a wave of new students into their current schools.

Raekwon Canty is a 10th grader at King. He was watching TV when he heard about the District’s plan for Germantown.

“They want us to kill each other,” he thought.

Canty hopes to go to college. But he expects next year to be lost to fights.

“If people have been going to King for so long, then other people try to come and take over? They’re not having that. I know I wouldn’t,” he said.

Experts say the District must disarm that mindset in order to close schools safely.

“You need to start the conversation and the intervention now, so when September rolls around, you’ve invested nine months of interaction,” said Anthony Murphy.

As the executive director of Town Watch Integrated Services, Murphy oversees 700 town-watch groups and a couple of hundred safe-corridors programs around the city.

He said prevention efforts should have already begun:

Conversations with kids in both shuttered and receiving schools.

A detailed analysis of how student commutes are likely to change. 

Training for teachers on how to report signs of trouble. 

Increased communications between school officials, police, and community leaders.

And outreach to respected neighborhood “old heads” who can help hammer out truces.

“You have to ask the entire community, ‘What are you willing to do to make this OK?’” said Murphy. 

“That has not happened yet.”

A citywide issue

It’s not just the Northwest.

In early January, almost 1,000 people turned out to a public forum on the District’s plan to close 12 North Philly schools, including Strawberry Mansion High.

“People are scared to go from one neighborhood to another,” said Mansion student Marcquis Graham. “The murder rate is going to be higher, and there are going to be more people dropping out of school.” 

Similar arguments have been made at forums in South Philly, West Philly, and the Southwest.

Superintendent Hite has responded by pointing out that more than half of the city’s high school students already leave their neighborhoods to attend school. He’s promised detailed safety plans, extra transportation, safe corridors, and conflict resolution programs.

Aziz, who has been working on the front lines against gang violence in the city for the past 17 years, is skeptical:

“I think their approach is going to be a knee-jerk reaction to somebody getting shot.” 

Hall has a similar fear. 

“All I see is the possibility of somebody getting killed,” he said.

If that happens, says Kelley Hodge, the already frayed relationship between the District and city parents may snap.

Like Aziz, Hall, and Murphy, Hodge says she wasn’t consulted on the District’s school-closings plan. She hasn’t been invited to participate in safety planning. 

“I presume there has been discussion,” she said. “I haven’t been privy to the details.”

Every day, though, Hodge hears from Philadelphia families. 

She says they’re scared mass closings will worsen the already pervasive violence in city schools, and they’re worried that their warnings are falling on deaf ears.

But their message to the District, said Hodge, is clear:

“We’re going to hold you accountable for what happens to our children.”


Photo credits: Second photo: William Wade, principal of Martin Luther King High School, says that planning for a potential influx of Germantown students will begin after the March SRC vote on school closings. (Emma Lee/NewsWorks)

Third photo: Terrace Born Killers, or TBK, is the name of one of several gangs that claim territory in the neighborhoods surrounding Germantown and King High Schools. (Emma Lee/NewsWorks)

Slideshow: All photos by Emma Lee/NewsWorks

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Comments (24)

Submitted by Vera (not verified) on January 31, 2013 8:21 am
Having taught at Gratz I know the problem of kids who own certain corners or small parts of neighborhoods fighting for no rationale reason or purpose. But I also observed that the students driving this dynamic are few. Unfortunately the district tends to coddle everyone. If the troublemakers are isolated and dealt with the problem can be managed. I think that Mastery has done a better job than the district in managing the problem because it puts up with less nonsense. If the district adopted a fair, tough and consistent policy it would save itself a lot of grief. But these kids have to learn that the world is bigger than their block and they have to interact with other people in a civilized manner. I have no faith in this happening since the district operates in a chaotic, changing inconsistent manner and basically has no real plan for problem like this other than to blame teachers and administrators in the school when something they did nothing about goes wrong.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 31, 2013 7:39 pm
Vera, I totally agree with your points. There needs to be a recognition that aggressive, violent neighborhood rivalries are not acceptable. There can be healthy, competitive neighborhood rivalries, but allowing these rivalries to become aggressive or violent is simply not acceptable. Parents and community members who enable their children to engage in aggressive, violent rivalries are a part of the problem. If parents really care about the safety of their children, these parents need to work together to take on the rivalries that go too far. How about teaching kids to work together, build bridges, and forgive? What happens when kids grow up and have to go into the "real world" and work with people from different neighborhoods, races, ethnicities, and SESs? Instead of letting the rivalries be an excuse, DO SOMETHING about the aggressive, violent rivalries! EGS
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 31, 2013 8:51 am
If anyone thinks that this is not a serious issue which needs to be addressed in a very proactive and comprehensive manner, they need to think more than twice. I have been meaning to write an article about that issue for the Notebook. I was an AP at Furness when Vallas abruptly closed Audenreid after there was serious gang violence there which ended in a female student being severely slashed with a knife. Paul Vallas sent half of Audenreid's students to Southern and half to Furness -- with no additional teachers and no additional support staff. I spent the majority of my time, and I mean 24/7, keeping the 5th street kids, the 12th street kids and the 21st street kids from beating the heck out of each other. They brought their "neighborhood issues" to school with them everyday. The teachers at Furness went way beyond the call of duty to keep Furness as a safe haven. What they did was truly heroic. I can trace all of Southern's recent school climate problems back to that ridiculous move by Paul Vallas. I will bet that not many people even know that Southern's "climate manager" during that time was beaten up by students inside the school. I met Mr. Kihn at the school closing meeting at Southern the other night and told him about that. He knew nothing about that history. There is a reason why we study history in our schools -- one is so we learn from our mistakes. Otherwise we are destined to repeat them. The "small schools movement" in Philadelphia was started because 'there was a consensus" that small schools are easier to control, and therefore, safer. Small schools are also more effective at educating children because they are better at "nurturing children." The fear of high school students to "go to" the schools where they are being sent is real and not imaginary. As our students have said over and over again, schools are homes to many children and their teachers and classmates are their families. Do I need to explain the psychological effects on children who are ripped from their families and sent to schools which they view as large, cold and uncaring? You see, we need a little "institutional memory" in this discussion.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 31, 2013 7:07 pm
Rich, I understand that neighborhood rivalries can be a serious problem. What is most problematic, however, is that parents and members of communities tolerate or even support aggressive, violent rivalries. It floors me how even after so many murders in this city, with the vigils and parents saying "Enough is enough," that more people can't open their eyes and see that violence is very destructive. How much more violence will it take for people to realize that enough is enough? One problem with the School District is that they are too tolerant of the aggression and violence in the school buildings. One thing that I saw Mastery do well was that they don't tolerate aggression or violence. At the Mastery school where I spent time, the school didn't kick kids out who were fighting. The administrators and teachers worked with these kids in various ways, e.g. seating arrangement, counseling, moving kids to a different classroom, or allowing the child to have cool-down breaks. If a child was fighting, he/she would have to go to an administrator's office and likely serve in-school suspension. The parents had to come for a meeting. But at this Mastery school, the kids weren't kicked out. At this Mastery school, the administrators made very clear to kids and parents that putting hands on another student in order to solve problems was not acceptable. This message was clear, frequent, and consistent. I understand that Mastery has more resources to have more adults in the buildings because their teachers cost less and due to outside funding. At the same time, giving a clear, consistent, message to parents and students that fighting is unacceptable is very important. There needs to be an expectation that fighting is unacceptable. At the School District school where I student taught, there wasn't a ton of fighting, but I did see fights on occasion. Some teachers allowed the fighting to happen; they accepted it as a part of the job. Other teachers had expectations about and consequences for aggression and fighting and held kids accountable. There needs to be an expectation in every school that when fighting happens, adults don't just stand idly by. It's not unreasonable for a school to contact a parent when a child is involved in a fight or to expect that students resolve conflicts peacefully. Teaching kids to resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively is preparing kids for life. Resolving conflicts nonviolently is an important principle for a well-functioning democratic society. If students don't learn how to resolve conflicts nonviolently, then our country is in big, big trouble. Education Grad Student
Submitted by walkaway (not verified) on February 1, 2013 12:21 am
Education Grad Student, you kill me. Please stop touting Mastery, and reread the post from the former AP from Furness. Did you know that when I was teaching at Bartram I kept a tally of 34 students over two years kicked out of Mastery and sent to my classroom from January to May? That does not mean they are no nonsense, that means they select who they want. Did you see the significant barriers to entry that Mastery reported in the Notebook? Did you know that Mastery has a "School within a school" where all the "bad kids" go and are sequestered away from general population? Those kids are not even handled by Mastery, an outside provider is hired to manage "those" kids. You really need to think more comprehensively about issues--don't worry, my Penn ed degree didnt prepare me either. Student teaching, is not the same as teaching. In my four years teaching, 9 of my students were murdered--often over petty but historical neighborhood issues. This is not a situation where parents alone can protect their kids. There has been no talk about the district implementing restorative practices in schools where major transitions are taking place. After my first year of teaching, I stopped breaking up fights too--for fear that I would get hurt. There are no easy fixes here.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 1, 2013 12:30 am
walkaway, How do you know that these kids were kicked out of a Mastery school? Did the kids tell you that? Did you receive a notice that the kids were expelled from Mastery? Or did these kids happen to move to a new neighborhood during the school year, a common occurrence for many District students? From what Mastery school(s) were these students coming? If you've read my posts over time, you will see that I have mixed feelings about Mastery. I have positive things to say about them as well as plenty of criticism. I am speaking from my experience spending as much time as I did at one of Mastery's schools. This school DID NOT select its students. They did not KICK OUT the problem students. Other Mastery schools might be different, but at this school, the staff members worked with the kids and the parents. There were kids 2 or 3 years below grade level in reading and/or math and Mastery didn't kick them out. At this school, there were children with significant behavior problems and teachers had to deal with them. When things escalated, e.g. the child was fighting or endangering other students or leaving the room, a dean or administrator would often become involved. But teachers at this Mastery school put up with a lot of behavior problems, a lot of difficult parents, as well as great kids and great parents. Mastery didn't kick out the kids with the behavior problems. All of the kids, other than the kids who were children of employees, came from the neighborhood. I spent time with elementary aged kids at Mastery and there was no school within a school. I have heard that there is the school within a school model in middle school. The question to ask is, Is the school within a school set up such a bad idea? The 10% of kids who make life a living hell shouldn't be spoiling the educations of the other 90%. There is a lot of criticism of Mastery, some of it deserved. I feel that unless one has spent a lot of time in one of their schools, that you shouldn't be judging them so harshly. There are many nuances to behavior management policies at the Mastery school in which I spent time. It was definitely not a zero tolerance school at all. Have you ever spent time in a Mastery school or is your knowledge all second hand? I have many criticisms of Mastery in terms of the workload of their teachers, value added compensation, teaching to the test and benchmarks, and a few criticisms here and there of their behavior management policies. But overall, the behavior management policies were a great strength of the Mastery school at which I spent time. Regarding the District and restorative practices, when the kids are out of control and teachers are at risk, that's an issue that involves the principal. The principal should not be tolerating that kind of behavior. I understand that some principals don't do much to help teachers. What do teachers do? Do they complain or let someone at the District or PFT know? Do teachers call parents? Do teachers keep incident reports? And if the District introduces restorative practices, do principals and teachers implement them with fidelity? I understand that there are no easy fixes, especially with middle school and high school kids. But do teachers come together and try to do something? Do teachers collaborate to send students to other classrooms for out-of-class timeouts? Do teachers come together and DEMAND change from the administrators? I'm trying to play devil's advocate here.... EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 1, 2013 6:09 am
Can you accept however, that it is much easier to reprimand students and offer specific consequences when they kno the alternative to behaving is being kicked out? Masterys behavior management plan works bc there is the threat of being booted. At my school we are trying the same demerit/merit system mastery uses (as do other charter schools) and we are finding that for the toughest students, it means nothing to have detention every day and get suspended, bc they know the many, many little things can't get them removed
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 1, 2013 4:11 pm
Anonymous, I can't agree with what you say because it is not true from my experience. I spent over 100 hours at a Mastery school and there is no threat of being booted, at least not at the elementary level. I'm not trying to be pro-Mastery here. I'm telling the honest to God truth based on my experience. There was a kid whose behavior was characteristic of oppositional defiant disorder. This child touched other children inappropriately, crawled on the floor, destroyed property, was argumentative, and so on. At times, he made life a living hell for the teacher and other students. This child got out in school and out of school suspension, but not expelled. The school was working with the parents to get the child a TSS worker, not to expel the child. At the elementary level, at the Mastery school at which I spent considerable time, Mastery personnel work with the children, they don't give them the boot, even for chronic behavioral issues. If you talk with a dean at a Mastery school, they will also tell you that for some kids, the merit/demerit system doesn't mean much either for the toughest kids, especially if the parents are not involved. And even with involved parents, some of them are in denial about their child's behavior. EGS
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 1, 2013 8:55 am
Hi EGS and others. I am really enjoying your conversation and you do not have to be devil's advocates to raise and debate those issues. The issues you raise have been hotly debated ever since I entered the school system in 1975. Everything which has been put forth here has been tried at one school or the other and where I have actually worked. The problem of the disruptive student has never been resolved over those years. Everything you accuse Mastery of doing has been done in regular school district schools. I could fill up these comments with many real life examples ranging from Torch Lytle's "Opportunities" SLC at Uni back in the day to my experience at one of our selective admissions schools where I was the one who filled out the "return to neighborhood school" forms sending all 9th grade students who did not pass ninth grade back to their neighborhood schools. I certainly did not think that was the right thing to do to those students but I was "directed" to do that by "the principal." Torch, and even I, started "twilight schools" for overage high school students who were behind in credits because they refused to comply with school rules and were now "overage" for their grade level. Rather than condemn Mastery for dealing with disruptive students in ways we accuse them of doing, we should commend Mastery for dealing with the issue. The problem really is that when disruptive students are removed from charter schools, the disruptive students are then just thrown upon the regular neighborhood schools -- without more. And we should blast the School District for not now showing the leadership to deal with those issues in any proactive way. The problem today is that the School District is overwhelmed with inappropriate behavior and it does not have the human capacity to deal with the problems of our troubled youth. What exasperates the problem tenfold is that there is an "administrative culture" which "blames the teachers" for the inappropriate behavior of their students and which permeates the entire district. This blame the teacher "mentality" is destructive of what we collectively need to do for children. It is that mentality which is the driving force behind the "reconstitution" syndrome which infects the district management and the politics of education. The best and most effective principals and assistant principals are those who support teachers, are visible throughout the day to "help and support" teachers, and actively interact and deal with disruptive students in a positive way.
Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on February 1, 2013 9:05 am
Schools are not organized / created for all students. Alternative programs are needed. Unfortunately, neighborhood schools become "dumping grounds." There should be more options like Twilight so students can earn their diploma but not spend 7 hours and 4 minutes a day in school attempting to accumulate credits. To date, most of the "alternatives" created in the 2000s are magnet schools or charters with rigid behavioral expectations. (Youth Build seems to be the exception although I don't know how much misbehavior they permit). There needs to be more alternatives so neighborhood schools are not longer "dumping grounds."
Submitted by (not verified) on June 26, 2013 4:44 am
Add more power-to the Office you count on. (
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 1, 2013 4:04 pm
Rich, I totally agree with your points about the need to be proactive. I think that the District could learn a lot from what Mastery does. The reason the school-wide PBIS worked at the Mastery school where I spent time was due to cooperation among all staff members and fidelity to the procedures. There was an issue in one of the grades with kids running out of the room. Some teachers were frustrated with an assistant principal and deans for sending kids back to class after these kids ran out of the room. So there was a meeting with a number of teachers and administrators, and together, they worked out a solution so that kids who ran out of the room went on an in-school suspension. So when issues arose, if those issues were not addressed in the behavior management handbook, then staff had to work together. At this Mastery school, the principal was great and respected the staff. At this Mastery school, the system worked because everyone was on the same page. There was an assistant principal and deans responsible for overseeing the school wide PBIS. There was training for the teachers. Mastery has money for the assistant principals and deans because many of their teachers are younger and the benefits are not as generous as the SDP (although my understanding is that the benefits package for Mastery employees is pretty good). Also, Mastery receives outside funding. If Mastery gives any training to the District, it should be on behavior management instead of mentoring teachers. At many of the neighborhood schools in the SDP, there should be an assistant principal in charge of school culture and 1 or more deans (depending on school size) to handle behavior problems. The behavior problems are severe enough to warrant an assistant principal whose position is to manage school culture. Having a social worker is very important as well. The children have more of an impact on the school culture than the adults because there are more children than adults. However, the adults are very important for making a school function well. I keep hearing about principals and how terrible some of the principals. The District school where I student taught had a great principal who was very respectful toward staff and students. I don't have enough experience yet in order to know what a destructive principal is like. If anyone is able to give concrete examples, that would be great. Also, how are these principals able to stay in the District? Is there a shortage of principals? I ask this because on the District's employment page, it said that the they were hiring principals and assistant principals. EGS
Submitted by walkaway (not verified) on February 1, 2013 12:54 am
I totally agree with you. The fear of parents and students is real, and I resent anyone who doesnt acknowledge it while sitting in their secure homes.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on January 31, 2013 8:38 am
the gangs they have named are from the 60s. they don't even exist anymore. the neighborhood problems they are forecasting are the result of the insular mentality they have developed. neighborhood high schools have those fights already. it is incorrect to say that moving to another school is the reason for violence. the district should empower the administrators and teachers to allow them to deal decisively with issues of violence in their schools. they are critcized too often when they take proactive measures. back them, don't whack them.
Submitted by the interlace condo (not verified) on June 11, 2013 6:18 am
Being surrounded by renowned schools including Cedar Primary School, Maris Stella High School (Primary), and the St. Andrew's Village suite of Kindergarten to Junior College education. the interlace condo
Submitted by Mark (not verified) on January 31, 2013 10:30 am
Wait until you see the 8 schools that will now feed into Leeds MS. Horrific violence will be coming, thanks to the school closings.
Submitted by ConcernedRoxParent (not verified) on January 31, 2013 10:41 am
How about the parents stepping up and teaching their kids to get along with everyone. A novel concept, but I guess they would rather just keep being thugs instead of trying to make things better.
Submitted by Real (not verified) on January 31, 2013 8:37 pm
Wonderful idea, but not realistic.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 31, 2013 12:48 pm
I to remember the problems that occurred when Audenried closed down and the children were sent to Southern and Furness. Audenried alreadyhad its own neighborhood issues and it was like bringing a powder keg to a fire. @Concerned Rox Parent sometimes all of the blame does not like on the parents at this point most of these children are making there own decisions. Sometimes you can teach ur child everything right and they still end up on the wrong path
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 31, 2013 2:17 pm
Yes, when kids reach adolescence, the parents have less and less control over them. I have had several parents break down into tears in my office because they were so appalled at their son's or daughter's behavior and they were so frustrated with them -- and deeply hurt. I do not know if those in power at this point in time really understand why there was a "small schools movement" in our recent past. It was because small schools work better both academically and behaviorally. Small schools were created to give students a better sense of "belonging." It gives them a better sense of "identity" and a closer bond to each other and their teachers. As to "institutional memory," the apple just fell and it struck me in the head that DR. Hite and Mr. Kihn probably do not really know and understand about the school violence hearings held by the Human Relations Commission. Certainly the Boston Consulting Group has no background knowledge or experience in that arena, and they are the ones whose plan called for the immediate closing of so many schools without any regard for the human consequences of their recommendations. Dr. Hite, of course, was required to adopt their plan in his plan.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 31, 2013 12:19 pm
Audenried under Universal's control is still out of control with fights but yet they still have the school why because they do not have to report incidents the way that the district does
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 31, 2013 1:49 pm
Gangs and neighborhood rivalries still exist. Germantown kids traveling into Mt. Airy neighborhoods will cause problems. Home owners beware. Parents teach their kids to try to get along with others but the bottom line is and will always be, 'If someone hits you, hit him back." Nobody teaches their kid to stand up and get beat up. A tattletale will only get you out of first grade. The district only wants to sell Germantown because they can make a lot of money. It will be historic property next year and they won't be able to touch it. If the school is under utilized, UTILIZE IT! Don't send Wister kids to Leeds. Set up Germantown where half is middle and half is High School. That is how Leeds is set up now. Keep kids in their own neighborhoods where they feel comfortable. Give them a sense that they matter. Don't close all their schools and move them 2-3 neighborhoods away. People keep repeating history because the district forces the people in the know to shut their mouths. Think about who you haven't heard from..... Think about why.....If your job is on the line you can't speak the truth. Yes, we need to downsize. But we must do it intelligently
Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on February 4, 2013 12:41 pm
Being a person who grew up on 9th and Cambria and knowing that area well, it really bothers me that somehow this seems to be projected as a School District issue. The issue is an idiotic attachment to something you don't own. I remember when Fairmount was North Philly, and what about Brewerytown, Northern Liberties, etc. If you don't own the Real Estate, you don't own the block, no matter what is said in a Rap song. I went to Temple and watched how it expanded as I grew up and went to the area schools like Dobbins, and down the line Temple. I go back to the time when there was a Rolls Royce dealership not far from the picture in this story. I remember Butler Street, and JBM. I am the father of 2 young black men, one of whom is a fourth grader. I mentor at his school and volunteer trying to steer the children in the right direction. I am proud of my North Philly heritage and think I learned more about life, resourcefullness and survival from those years than all my college and professional career. I am saddened that young people are still fighting these age old battles of ignorance. When are the "old heads", like me, going to stand up and tell these kids, (and yes they are kids to our generation of 40 - 55 year olds), to just stop it? You can blame poverty and a lack of jobs, but there is a time when men will have to stand up and take leadership in the community. I don't live in the neighborhood any longer and am very active in my son's location, but if I did I would be right there being a man, protecting the women and children. I see a lot of men in that area when I go back and visit. Great black, brown, yellow and white men. The amount of kids that are causing the issues is minisule to your numbers, stand up and take action. There are many many outstanding genius level kids that need to see that the men in this neighborhood care. These kids don't belong to the school district they belong to you. This is your neighborhood and family, own it.
Submitted by Alex Edward (not verified) on November 13, 2014 1:17 pm

You have posted a great article i must sayl. You have great blogging skills
Blue Leather Jacket

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