Following the Commonwealth Foundation's press conference with legislators highlighting how one violent act occurs every 17 minutes in Pennsylvania's worst-performing schools, the Pennsylvania State Education Association retorted: "In situations where you don't have good facts, you tend to escalate your rhetoric."
On the contrary: Facts are their own rhetoric, and it's hard to argue against the frightening truth faced by Pennsylvania's children. Facts like the almost 10,000 acts of violence that students and teachers in the state's bottom-5 percent suffered between 2008 and 2010. Facts such as 5,601 assaults on students and staff, 999 weapons possessions, seven rapes, 15 sexual assaults, 261 robberies, 821 thefts and 115 terroristic threats in just 360 school days. In other words, children in our worst schools face thousands of hard, dangerous facts every day—and every 17 minutes, to be more precise.
Or how about the facts that less than 1 out of 10 students in some of our failing schools are able to reach proficiency in basic reading and math. Or how about the fact that rates of violence per 100 students were actually higher than proficiency rates?
Another fact: School choice can save their lives and futures, by allowing families to use a voucher at a safer, better school. We've got facts. Whether the PSEA wants to face them is another matter.