In This Corner

Tomas Hanna Associate Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) an all-around good guy, widely respected by even me, sat one seat away from Jack Stollsteimer, formerly a federal prosecutor and State Schools Safety Advocate. At times it was a good thing Steve Kerr, a specialist in rehabilitation sat between them. Steve fortunately, is a large, good natured man.

The forum was held by the Philadelphia Inquirer as follow up to the series on school violence. Tomas and Jack sometimes stared at each other like prize fighters, at other times they interrupted each other, and several times wagged their fingers at each other. Tomas claimed the school district was effectively dealing with the school violence problem and making progress. Jack stated the problem had been ignored for the past ten years and was only getting worse.

BY the end of the debate even Tomas stated the SDP has a problem with credibility. He is so right. These guys do need each other. If jack gets his job back a state safety advocate and Tomas actually gets the SDP to effectively tackle violence, then Jack can give Tomas the credibility he needs. But the facts are violence has been a problem in Philadelphia for years and the problem won’t go away by eliminating the position of schools safety advocate so the school district can fudge the numbers, a problem the mayor stated must be resolved now. The mayor now realizes that for whatever reasons, principals under report violence. We all know the reason. Principals have to make their bosses look good, and if they don’t, their bosses can only look good by firing them.  Truth does have its consequences. Now that the truth is out, hopefully the heads at the top which designed this system to under report violence will also be fired. The public should demand it and if politicians don’t do it one way or another, then these politicians should be held accountable. Then when the system is true and honest, maybe, just maybe we can develop an accountability system for teachers instead of letting all the you know what roll downhill and: “Blame The Teacher.”

I’ve been fighting this fight for ten years.  In the United States 44 schools are listed as persistently dangerous. 43 of them are in Philadelphia. I’ve been calling for truth for 10 years and my career has suffered for it. I’m either about to win a major victory or die as a good soldier.


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