A significant barrier that separates a high performing Philadelphia schools from poorly performing Philadelphia school is not the academic ability of the students, nor the instructional effectiveness of the teachers. Thee most debilitating obstacle between success and failure is the emotional stability and resiliency of young people attending school in our youngest grades. Research has been replicated proving that repetitive exposure to violence prevalent in many high poverty neighborhoods is so debilitating, many students (15%-25%) enter schools for the first time already suffering from emotional disorders. When interventions are not offered to children at young ages we fail them, and according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we prevent them from being able to help themselves progress as they age.
Emotional deficits habitually lead to cognitive deficits. The systemic failure to recognize emotional insufficiencies in our children leads to academic shortfalls demonstrated by the School District of Philadelphia’s low test scores. It is also sadly demonstrated by unacceptable levels of violence at many Philadelphia schools, and high incarceration rates for children from low socioeconomic homes.
As this week’s series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, administration has created a two tiered discipline system across our city. The magnet and charter schools have it and the neighborhood schools don’t. Separate is not equal, but with the right interventions we could make it so. Too bad the current administration lacks the political to make this happen.
The article linked below is long, but worth the read. Teachers, we are making a comeback.