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Monday, 12 June 2006

Running Scared


A teacher I use to work with at another school forwarded this e-mail to me. It is exactlty what Mr. XXXX and I were talking to you about today in the copy room. The timing couldn't have been better.

Again, if you wanted more info on the story, you could always go to Channel 10's web site (NBC10.com) for more information.

See ya around school,

Investigators: Philadelphia Elementary Teachers Scared Of Students

May 16, 2006

PHILADELPHIA -- Gangs in the hallways, sex in the bathrooms, death threats against teachers -- we're not talking about high school, this is elementary school.

Lu Ann Cahn and the NBC 10 Investigators went undercover as a group of teachers put out a cry for help.

The Philadelphia teachers asked the NBC 10 Investigators to protect their identities because they feared for their jobs. Even worse, they said, they fear for their lives from their own students.

"It's very frightening. It's very frightening," one teacher said.

These teachers said you only have to watch the playgrounds to see what they are talking about:

"It is like a war zone."

"I have kids who are petrified to leave my classroom without me -- petrified. They are bullied, they're hit, things are thrown at them."

What goes on outside, the teachers said, is just a small reflection of the violence these teachers insist is going on inside their Philadelphia elementary school classrooms.

"To be honest, I'm scared," a teacher said.

"I had a student larger than myself threaten to kill me."

"We've had guns, fourth grade, third grade, kindergarten children bringing in box cutters and not afraid to us them and not afraid to show that they know how to use them and not afraid to use the language that goes along with it."

When the NBC 10 Investigators went undercover, they witnessed one child being punched in the stomach until he cried. They also heard obscene language, saw obscene gestures and saw one child exposing himself. The exasperated teachers were being ignored.

"We have gangs of kids that pretty much run the halls, and we don't even stop them any more to say, 'Where do you belong,' because they will say "f" you to you. They will push you down the steps if you're in their way," one teacher told the NBC 10 Investigators.

"You're asking the public to believe that when you go to school, you are afraid of elementary school kids? How can they be controlling the school?" Cahn asked

"They are and they will tell you that," a teacher told Cahn.

"We did notice incidents were increasing with children in earlier grades," said Harvey Rice, the former Philadelphia Safe Schools Advocate.

Rice said he has also seen an increase in the seriousness of elementary school incidents.

Teachers told the NBC 10 News Investigators that on a regular basis they face incidents like urinating on bathroom walls, children humping each other, sexually exposing themselves and throwing scissors, desks and chairs on a regular basis.

The teachers said they can't understand why they're not getting relief from the school district's CEO Paul Vallas.

"If Mr. Vallas disguised himself and came into our school, he would not make it through the day," a teacher said.

"Vallas has come in and said there's a no-tolerance policy in place. What happened to that?" another teacher asked.

Vallas refused to be interviewed for this story.

"By not even knowing the schools so that he could do anything effective and real, it would seem grandstanding to him to do a cheap media interview," said the school district's communications director, Cecilia Cummings.

Cummings said that the statistics show violence throughout the school system is down 15 percent and that this year alone almost 10,000 elementary school children have been expelled.

"We are not allowed to suspend. Their hands are tied. (Administrators say), 'Oh, you have too many suspensions. Stop the suspensions,'" a teacher said.

A representative of the school district said that teachers should reveal the schools where there are problems. Teachers insist they've already risked their jobs by doing a television interview.

"It's scary enough being here. If something is not done, something bad is going to happen," a teacher told the NBC 10 Investigators.