The Cranky Taxpayer

The Cranky Taxpayer


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The State Education Department web site has data on "School Safety" for 2009-10. 

Looking at the state average and three peer cities, we see just that Richmond has found at least one category where it is a leader: disorder.

The heart of the problem seems to be the Big B: Behavior.

Or, to emphasize the differences, here are the same data as ratios of the Virginia offenses per ADM to the State offenses per ADM:

The remarkably high rates for Offenses Against Persons, Staff, and Students, and the Weapons Offenses are particularly worrisome. 

The offenses in these categories are listed here.  Notably, almost all of Richmond's "All Other" offenses are related to attendance, about which we have seen Richmond's violations of the state attendance law and VDOE's utter failure to discharge its duty to enforce that law.

Aside from the general disorder, please notice the 144 instances of weapon offenses and 494 offenses against staff (the latter at a rate 7.6 times the state average). 

Here, for your browsing pleasure, are the Richmond high schools' offense reports for 2009-10, presented as percentages of the ADM (average daily membership):

Note the different scales on the ordinates.  If we take the "behavior" item out of Wythe, we see the other offenses are in the same league as Armstrong and Huguenot:

Overall, we see Wythe with over 3.2 offenses per student, Armstrong with 1.65, and Huguenot with 1.38.  No wonder the SOL scores are low.

The "Safe Schools Information Resource" also reports the outcomes.  Here are those, as percentages of the ADM (note: LT Suspension is long term, out of school suspension; ST is short term, out of school):

  Richmond State
Expulsion 0.2% 0.1%
LT Suspension 1.0% 0.3%
Expulsion to Suspension 0.3% 0.2%
None 19.2% 5.0%
ST Suspension 36.5% 12.9%
Spec. Ed Interim Placement 0.0% 0.0%
Total 57.3% 18.4%

Interestingly, Richmond uses the short term suspension (i.e., "take a vacation and cut school, kid") 2.8 times more frequently per kid than the state average and the no discipline option almost 3.8 times as often.

In the midst of all this disorder, they report they expelled only 52 kids.  They chickened out on 70 expulsions.  But they stood strong on rewarding truancy, by golly! 

These data tell us that we have a remarkable amount of disorder in our schools.  They don't tell us where it comes from (some will tell us that that the schools and their attitude are much of the problem).  They also don't tell us what we are doing (or not doing) about it (aside, that is, from rewarding truancy with out of school suspensions).  One reason for our dysfunctional response is dysfunctional leadership.


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Last updated 04/01/12
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher