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The Silence of John Street

is deafening.

This week, students assaulted at least four teachers in district schools, and there were seven attacks at West Philadelphia High alone over the last 10 school days. The issue has dominated nightly newscasts and appeared on newspaper front pages.

The mayor’s relative silence on the issue of battered teachers stands in stark contrast to the badgering he gave schools chief Paul Vallas late last year over the district’s $73.3 million budget deficit.

Then, Street spent nearly 14 hours over four days sitting in the front row during public hearings on the fiscal problems, interjecting his criticisms. He also testified before City Council on the issue.

The article goes on to say that getting out and front of the media to rant and rave just isn’t John Street’s style, and that’s fine. However, his silence on the issue when there have been such a rash of school incidences isn’t doing anyone any favors. He’s coming across as either vindictive towards School District CEO Paul Vallas or an aloof lame duck.

The article also contains a passage I find laughable:

The Street administration has launched a $3 million program to hire more truancy officers and also is establishing 12 curfew centers that will give youths safe havens from the streets. Education Secretary Jacqueline Barnett also participated in a March 6 meeting with Vallas and Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson that spelled out a tough new security policy for schools.

“The mayor takes a systems approach,” Barnett said. “For him it’s how do you get at the root of the chronic social issues we have. He’s absolutely passionate about it.”

Systems approach! To steal a quote from Dr. Evil, “I haven’t laughed that hard since I was a little girl.” Curfew Centers and truancy officers is a system’s approach? No, it’s still component tinkering, which as I’ve said before, might work for fixing cars but isn’t going to do anything when it comes to the social fabric. The inner cities have become bereft of opportunity and hope, and no amount of tweaking is going to fix that.

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