Philadelphia's 'adopt-a-school' partnership to prevent delinquency.
If students cannot read well by the end of third grade, their chances for later scholastic success are greatly diminished - Including a greater likelihood of delinquent behavior and dropping out of school. Dropping out of high school manifests serious, negative long-term consequences for youths. President Clinton has stated that "one of the things that we have to commit ourselves to as a country is to say that every 8-year-old in America will be able to pick up an appropriate book and say, 'I read this all by myself.'"
Upon her appointment to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Division of Juvenile Justice Services (DJJS) in 1997, Deputy Commissioner Joyce Burrell had a basic philosophy for preventing delinquency and reducing disproportionate minority confinement con·fine·ment
1. The act of restricting or the state of being restricted in movement.
confinement in the juvenile justice system. She believed "we must all do our part to save one child at a time." As the keynote speaker at Pennsylvania's first statewide "Preventing Crime in the Black Community" conference, the deputy commissioner challenged attendees to find neighborhood schools that they could help through some form of mentoring. In her moving comments, she asked all adults "to read to a child, somebody's child ... every day" and "to remember where you came from so that you can go back and give something great back, so that our communities can be restored to houses of refuge."
Based on the District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). Public Schools' Book Buddies program model, Burrell initiated the Friends for the Love of Reading project. This project is an adopt-a-school partnership between the executive staff of DJJS and an elementary school elementary school: see school. in the 19143 zip code zip code
System of postal-zone codes (zip stands for “zone improvement plan”) introduced in the U.S. in 1963 to improve mail delivery and exploit electronic reading and sorting capabilities. area of West Philadelphia to prevent future delinquency. Seventy-nine percent of the residents of West Philadelphia are African-American. Of the nearly 38,000 school-age children residing in the West Philadelphia School District cluster, 69 percent are from low-income families receiving financial assistance. Only 79 percent of students enrolled in the community's public schools are in attendance 80 percent of the time. Less than 10 percent of the community's students are ranked "proficient pro·fi·cient
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation, profession, or branch of learning.
An expert; an adept. " in reading. In addition to violence and juvenile crime, these and other risk factors have caused many youths in the West Philadelphia community to become involved in the Philadelphia juvenile justice system. A provision of DJJS's mission is to develop resources, programs, activities, projects and other support systems that will provide primary prevention services to divert children from the delinquent system. Consistent with the primary goal of promoting and advocating for a juvenile justice system with a full range of services responsive to the needs of the community, family and youths, this pro-active partnership would address delinquency prevention on the front end as opposed to the middle or latter end of adolescence.
DJJS assists Philadelphia's juvenile justice system through its management of the Youth Study Center (YSC YSC Young Survival Coalition
YSC Youth Study Center
YSC Youth Service Corps (Fremont, CA)
YSC Yale Slavic Chorus (Yale University)
YSC Yale Students for Christ
YSC Yearly Spares Cost
YSC You're So Cool ). YSC is the only secure detention facility for court-ordered youths, ages 13 to 18, who are alleged to have committed felony felony (fĕl`ənē), any grave crime, in contrast to a misdemeanor, that is so declared in statute or was so considered in common law. offenses and who are deemed to be serious risks to the safety of the community.
West Philadelphia High School West Philadelphia High School is a secondary school located in the West Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The school was completed on November 1, 1912. and occupies an entire city block between 46th and 47th streets, between Walnut Street and Locust Street. , the primary high school serving youths in the community, had the highest number (63) of violent incidents, such as assault, robbery, rape, arson arson, at common law, the malicious and willful burning of the house of another. Originally, it was an offense against the security of habitation rather than against property rights. , stabbing stab
v. stabbed, stab·bing, stabs
1. To pierce or wound with or as if with a pointed weapon.
2. To plunge (a pointed weapon or instrument) into something.
3. and shooting, all occurring on school property, reported among Philadelphia high school students during the 1995-96 school year. Shaw Middle School, one of two middle schools in the area that promotes students into West Philadelphia High School, had the second-highest number of incidents (23) reported among middle schools. In 1996, 232 students graduated from West Philadelphia high school, while 373 students dropped out. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a 1996 report issued by the Philadelphia Police Department The Philadelphia Police Department is the police agency responsible for law enforcement and investigations within the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the oldest municipal police agencies in the United States, and the fourth largest in the country. , a total of 2,169 juveniles who reside in this community were arrested for various offenses, with 88 percent of those crimes committed within the community.
Research has shown that reading just 30 minutes a day with or to a child significantly increases that child's reading ability. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 40 percent of fourth-grade children read below the basic level. In Philadelphia, approximately 45 percent of children in the public schools are not reading at grade level by fourth grade. The majority of the children do not attend quality preschools; this may be related to poor school achievement. In conjunction with President Clinton's America Reads Challenge initiative, the partnership seeks to help children in the West Philadelphia community read well and independently by the end of the third grade. The executive staff would accomplish this by providing one-to-one reading support, weekly, to third-graders with special educational needs during the school year. As an ancillary benefit, the executive staff also would be able to monitor the pulse of the community through direct-service delivery to one of its most vulnerable communities.
After a thorough search for a suitable school, the division selected S. Weir Mitchell School, a kindergarten through fourth-grade primary school in Southwest Philadelphia. Mitchell has a population of approximately 750 students, of which 99 percent are African-American. DJJS is helping the teachers, students and parents by providing them with reading and other support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services ; those who provide the aid are referred to as "friends." The friends are members of DJJS's senior level staff, support staff and social work graduate students who intern intern /in·tern/ (in´tern) a medical graduate serving in a hospital preparatory to being licensed to practice medicine.
in·tern or in·terne
n. at DJJS. Each friend is assigned a child. The friend reads to the student: the student reads to the friend. With the current temporary closing of the school's nearest public library until later in 1999, the creation of the Friends for the Love of Reading project is an unexpected blessing to the children and executive staff.
Although Mitchell was one of many schools suitable for selection, the division chose this school because it presented a very compelling case. The Mitchell School has only one art teacher, one physical education teacher and one computer teacher. Further, the school only has 18 computers; no instruments (except a piano) and a dire need for an intramural sports Intramural sports or intramurals are recreational sports organized within a school. The term derives from the words intra muros meaning inside the walls, program for its third- and fourth-grade boys. However, the Mitchell School hosts the Southwest Community Empowerment Zone Family Center. This centralized cen·tral·ize
v. cen·tral·ized, cen·tral·iz·ing, cen·tral·iz·es
1. To draw into or toward a center; consolidate.
2. on-site support center will help DJJS reallocate Verb 1. reallocate - allocate, distribute, or apportion anew; "Congressional seats are reapportioned on the basis of census data"
allocate, apportion - distribute according to a plan or set apart for a special purpose; "I am allocating a loaf of more resources to the children and their families. The enthusiastic smiling faces of students and faculty have welcomed the project and DJJS staff also have felt its inspirational effect. One reading friend was so inspired that he committed himself to developing a school chorus. Bringing talented and caring individuals into the school system is a wonderful example of how scarce resources can be identified and tapped.
This project has been a catalyst for helping DJJS collaborate with other city agencies and collateral support services. Philadelphia Reads, under the leadership of Mayor Edward Rendell, is the local component of the national America Reads Challenge. Philadelphia Reads has and continues to provide reading support training workshops and other resources. Philadelphia Reads also has agreed to provide support and guidance for a Philadelphia Department of Human Services agencywide book drive. In addition to Philadelphia Reads, the division is mobilizing other organizations, including the Defender Association of Philadelphia and the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice in its efforts to bring more resources to the Mitchell School.
Kyle Simmons, a 1997 to 1998 school year fourth-grader and finalist in the citywide Black Oratorical or·a·tor·i·cal
Of, relating to, or characteristic of an orator or oratory.
ora·tor Contest sponsored by the Philadelphia School District's Department of African-American Studies, profoundly stated, "It seems that with the [civil rights] gains, we gave up something that was most important to us - The village." But DJJS has not forgotten the African proverb proverb, short statement of wisdom or advice that has passed into general use. More homely than aphorisms, proverbs generally refer to common experience and are often expressed in metaphor, alliteration, or rhyme, e.g. , "It takes a village to raise a child." DJJS also is collaborating with local civic, fraternal fraternal /fra·ter·nal/ (frah-ter´n'l)
1. of or pertaining to brothers.
2. of twins; derived from two oocytes.
1. Of or relating to brothers. , community and faith organizations to recruit 20,000 mentors in the city of Philadelphia during the next two years. With the same enthusiasm invested in the Friends for the Love of Reading project, this vision, too, shall be manifested.
Walter Howell is a graduate intern in the office of the deputy commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Human Services, DJJS.