Pennsylvania’s worst schools don’t just compromise our children’s education and future success – they compromise our children’s safety. Kids attending Pennsylvania’s worst academically performing public schools are more than 5 times as likely to fall victim to acts of violent crime.
At the 140-some public schools scoring in the bottom 5 percent of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, more than 3,800 incidents were reported in the 2010-2011 school year, including six rapes, 86 indecent assaults, 34 sexual assaults and more than 2,200 assaults on students and staff. It’s no surprise, then, that as the children in these schools spend each school day struggling for safety, that academic performance suffers. In these same schools, less than four out of 10 kids are at grade level in reading and math.
Children are condemned to these violent and failing schools across the state. Among the highest rates of violence with the lowest rates of academic performance were schools in Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading and York. Wilkinsburg High School, in the Pittsburgh area, mustered only 16 percent of students at grade level in math, but ranked among the highest in violence at 80 incidents of crime for every 100 students.
But there is hope for Pennsylvania’s kids. Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program has provided scholarships funded by business donations for thousands of children to escape failing and violent schools and attend a school of choice. Proposed legislation (HB 2468) would expand the EITC program, providing a lifeline to tens of thousands more students in the commonwealth.