HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Revealing that one act of violence occurs every 17 minutes at one of the 143 most academically failing Pennsylvania public schools, the Commonwealth Foundation urged the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today to pass pending school choice legislation before the end of the year.
Following a news conference with members of the General Assembly, dozens of elementary school students delivered that message with bouquets of 17 white roses to each lawmaker's office, symbolizing the victims and frequency of violence within these schools.
Policy analysts at the free-market think tank found that the Pennsylvania Department of Education recorded nearly 10,000 acts of violent crime within the bottom-5 percent of academically underperforming schools over just 360 school days. These acts included rapes, physical assaults on students and staff, robberies, weapons charges, terroristic threats and riots.
"When the rates of violence per 100 students are higher than the rates of basic reading and math proficiency, Harrisburg, we have a problem," said Jay Ostrich, director of public affairs for the Commonwealth Foundation. "Instead of a legacy of success, our children are now being handed a legacy of sorrows that can only be changed if our lawmakers act now."
According to other PDE statistics, some failing schools were unable to help 9 out of every 10 children reach proficiency in reading and math. On average, only 3 out of 10 students in the 143 worst performing schools reached the minimum academic standards on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments test.
"Educational lifelines are available that can help children learn in safer schools and save taxpayers money," said former high school teacher Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation. "We just need House members to have the courage to throw them."
The Commonwealth Foundation supports legislation that immediately rescues students from failing and violent schools. This can be done by providing school choice for parents through a combination of an Education Improvement Tax Credit program expansion and vouchers that act as opportunity scholarships.
SOURCE Commonwealth Foundation