Safety dance


Issue: "Terror on trial," Oct. 18, 2003

WARNING LABELS FOR UNSAFE schools are the subject of controversy after states categorized only 54 schools nationwide as "dangerous." The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act called for states to identify schools that experience chronic violence as "persistently dangerous" by this summer, but 44 states and Washington, D.C., reported that they have no such schools. A congressional hearing was held last month in one of those states-Colorado-to investigate.

NCLB allows states to set criteria for what constitutes a dangerous school, but it requires them to allow students in such schools to transfer to another public school in their district. The law also allows any child who is the victim of a campus violent crime to choose another school.

Twenty-seven of the nation's 54 dangerous schools are in Philadelphia, where school district CEO Paul Vallas takes the label seriously. Education Week reports that Mr. Vallas told his principals that there are two ways to get off the list: "One is to continue to crack down on bad behavior.... The only other solution is to move the school district to New York state or California." New York has declared two schools "persistently dangerous." California has identified zero.

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Jennifer Marshall
Jennifer Marshall


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