July 19, 2010 |
MOST KIDS WHO get bullied don't tell a soul. Far fewer may report the harassment to their parents or teachers. When Ziainey Stokes was teased incessantly by a couple of bullies at her West Philadelphia Catholic school, she wrote a letter to the president of the United States. And he replied. Buoyed by this, the soft-spoken, precocious 11-year-old is now on a mission to end bullying by creating an organization that would help others find their voice and urge adults to pay attention - starting with President Obama.
April 5, 2010
AS THE parent of a high-school student, I'm very displeased with what the police are doing nowadays. A short while ago, my son, a student at University City High, was going to school. He doesn't have to be there until 9. That morning, he happened to wake up late, so he was running late - but he was going. As he walked up the steps to the school, he was told he had to go with the cop to the truancy van. Truant means absent from school without permission. If he was on his way into school, no way he should have been taken away from there.
March 30, 2010 |
Every day, about 12,000 Philadelphia students are out of school with no excuse. Every year, the Philadelphia School District, city courts, and the Department of Human Services spend $15 million on truancy-prevention programs. Historically, a lack of coordination among the three means that many students still slip through the cracks - leading not just to truants, but also to dropouts. There are about 95,000 children under DHS care in city schools and in out-of-school programs.
March 27, 2009 |
Starting today, playing hooky in Philadelphia is about to get more expensive. City Council yesterday unanimously passed an ordinance that would slap a $25 fine on the parents of school-age children found wandering the city between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on school days. The measure - endorsed by the school district and the Police Department - gives any city law-enforcement officer the authority to obtain the name, age, and address of the youth caught skipping school and of his or her parent or legal guardian.
March 11, 2008
IT'S IRONIC that Principal Chris Johnson of Ben Franklin High School says "you can't just kick a kid out of school. That's not how it works. There has to be a series of incidents. " The school district doesn't apply the same rule to students as it does to teachers. If a teacher complains about violence or lack of support to the Safe Schools hotline, he is kicked out of his job immediately. Students can curse at teachers, beat teachers up, get into lunchroom melees and nothing happens.
February 5, 2008
IT'S TOO EARLY to know what impact the loss of $21 million in after-school and truancy-prevention programs will have on the city, following Mayor Nutter's announcement last week that he was cutting that amount from Philadelphia Safe & Sound's budget. And until the state Department of Public Welfare completes its audit of the agency, it's too early for anyone to guess which programs will be restored, reduced or eliminated. But it's not too early to say this: what a mess. Former Mayor John Street, eager to stamp out truancy and prevent violence, gave a $75 million contract to Safe and Sound, a private agency that channels many city dollars to social-services providers.
February 13, 2007
THE CITY'S CRACKDOWN on curfew violators appears to be working in South Philadelphia. Since July 2006, when the Dixon Curfew Center opened and police made curfew enforcement more of a priority, juvenile shootings plummeted in the area, covered by the 1st and 17th Police Districts. In the 1st, shootings were down 60 percent; in the 17th, the drop was 83 percent. Police say there has been a tremendous improvement in the area. This is the kind of news city residents need to hear more of, especially from an administration that has not offered the silver bullets residents yearn to hear on the problem of violent homicides.
February 2, 2007 |
In the early 1900s, criminologists noted that almost a quarter of young male offenders had a history of skipping school. Social scientists thus labeled truancy the "kindergarten of crime. " More than 100 years later, the issue of truancy has become paramount across the country. And on Nov. 30, 2006, when Mayor John F. Street admonished hundreds of repeatedly truant students and their parents at the Liacouras Center, it became evident that this growing trend plagues the City of Brotherly Love as well.
January 11, 2007
RE COUNCILMAN Goode's comments to schools CEO Paul Vallas: I agree with the councilman that truancy is a major problem. But does the councilman have a solution? Does he really think the school district can fix truancy? If he were superintendent, would truancy disappear? Councilman Goode's father was the city's chief executive for eight years. Was Goode Sr. any less committed than his son to getting kids in school? Despite the fact that the "brothers and sisters run the city," truancy, drug-trafficking and homicide are an ongoing plague.
December 16, 2006 |
It's five minutes into Greg Patton's workday, and he's already got five customers on the truancy bus. "It's a busy morning," said Patton, who oversees the Philadelphia School District's daily sweeps for school-skipping students. Two weeks ago, Mayor Street declared war on truancy, threatening parents of children who miss school with jail time and stiff fines. Patton expected the highly publicized push would yield fewer students on the streets. But even the mayor's sharp words have meant no real change so far. There was a bump in the number of truants immediately after Street made his announcement, but it has leveled off to about 200 truants picked up daily.