Truth About Failing Schools is Scary

Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released an analysis updating violence statistics from failing public schools. These 141 schools with data available all rank in the bottom-5 percent based on academic performance. The nearly 82,000 students enrolled in these failing schools witnessed more than 4,500 acts of violence in 2009-10, including more than 100 indecent or sexual assaults and 225 indecent exposure and nearly 2,600 assaults on students and staff.

For the full spreadsheet of violence data on all 141 schools, click here. You can also get data on any school in Pennsylvania from the Department of Education.

Gov. Corbett has proposed giving scholarships to students in these failing schools to attend the school of their choice. Gov. Corbett’s proposal included expanding the successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit and enhancing the charter school law, both of which would also increase opportunities for Pennsylvania students.

In response to our analysis, the PSEA union released a statement saying:

Teachers and school employees have been leading the way in advocating for safe conditions in all public schools. While the Commonwealth Foundation seeks to use scare tactics to promote tax-funded tuition vouchers, it’s important to point out that under a voucher system, many students would be left behind in public schools which will have even fewer resources to keep schools safe.

While teachers and school employees have certainly been working for safer schools, the PSEA has not. The number one agenda for the union bosses has been defeating any school choice proposal that threatens the status quo they benefit from. And they continue to mislead, as evidence from vouchers around the country shows that school choice improves public schools.

And as for “scare tactics” — the truth about failing schools may be scary, but it is still the truth.