March 17, 2007

Dopey Philly Inquirer Letter of the Week

Steven Halpern of Philly repeats the old canard that the plague of violence in Philly schools is due to ... lack of funding.

According to statistics, most students expelled from school end up in prison. Today, anyone living in the United States has a better chance of going to prison than citizens of almost any other nation in the world.

So, students who want to learn, teachers and administrators should tolerate thugs who threaten and utilize violence nearly every day in the school setting because we don't want these thugs to ... end up in prison. Oh. Makes "sense."

Today, school funding per-student in Philadelphia is much less than what it is in some suburban communities. Who suffers from this gross funding inequality? Answer: the students.

Whom does Vallas want to punish for the horrid state of the school district? Answer: the students. The problem with the Philadelphia School District is not the students. The problem lies with the politicians who run a system funded at much less than the rate of suburban public schools.

Inner-city schools across the country have some of the highest per-pupil funding in the whole nation. Take a look at Washington DC schools, for example. Their per-pupil spending leads the United States, yet their schools are a disgrace. And, as if lower per-pupil funding is an excuse for violent student behavior. Blame the students indeed. Sheesh.

The problem also lies in the fact that these politicians feel it is fine for gross inequalities to exist, where some students have more than they could ever use, while others do not have enough food to eat.

Ah, now it all hangs out. The politicians aren't doing enough to redistribute the wealth adequately! Government, government, government. You're not "doing enough."

And, therein lies the problem, obviously. The mindset that clamors for ever-more governmental solutions to what are largely social, cultural and personal issues. The more we remove the onus from the personal to the collective (government), the more the existing problems in our schools (and elsewhere) will be exacerbated. In other words, it's the "it's not my fault" justification.

UPDATE: This letter from Melissa Castle-Caine in the Philly Daily News helps to make my point:

When we start taking parental responsibility for the incorrigibility of our children, only then can things change. It's not the schools or the teachers. It all comes down to who is ultimately responsible for the conduct of these out-of-control kids - the parents.

In addition, this other observation of hers is spot-on:

Why is it that we expect the schools to handle these issues instead of us, the parents? Why is it OK for a student to attack or harass a teacher (with minimal repercussions), yet as soon as a teacher tries to gain some type of order or respect, a parent is either on the phone or at the school demanding "justice" for his child?

My emphasis. Excellent point. Seen such instances quite often, Melissa. Unfortunately.

Posted by Hube at March 17, 2007 09:18 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)