If you bang your head against a wall ten times, there is absolutely no reason to believe the result will be different on the next try. At least, that would be the rational conclusion.
But this is Philadelphia, so when it comes to logic, all bets are off.
It’s one thing if this backwards mentality means that a pothole goes unfilled for a year. People get frustrated, but life goes on. It’s quite another when lives are being snuffed out regularly. The killing of yet another police officer – that makes four this year – is just the latest example of a city spiraling out of control.
Despite Mayor Nutter’s claims that the violence epidemic would be curtailed, nothing has changed. In fact, based on the resources put into the epidemic this year, it’s only getting worse. When cops are getting gunned down every two months and brutal subway attacks occur seemingly every week, it is clear that respect for authority is nonexistent, and no one is off-limits to the predators.
The City of Brotherly Love holds the distinction of being the murder and violence capital of the nation, with nothing to indicate that the situation will improve anytime soon. Three things have become readily apparent:
1) The way we did things in the past hasn’t worked.
2) What we’re doing now isn’t having an impact.
3) Unless a bold leader takes steps to institute true reform and eschew band-aid solutions to gaping wounds, the city will continue its plummet into the abyss.
Here’s the part no one wants to admit. There is NO short-term solution. Period. We can talk all day about feel-good steps designed to deal with the violence by invoking vague rhetoric: community partnerships, town watches, more police, and of course, the ultimate panacea, banning guns. But since we’ve been hearing that for decades, ad nauseum, here’s a newsflash to our leaders: none of these things has worked. And they’re not going to, either, because they are tactics without the benefit of a strategy.
So what is the solution that will work?
It all boils down to our horrendous educational system, and, as a direct result, the lack of hope in our young people. With no possibility of receiving a quality education, and the prospects for a decent job virtually nonexistent, many of our youth see the dream of a stable and prosperous life as nothing more than an illusion. Faith is lost. At that point, when people feel they have nothing to live for, or to lose, they resort to risk-taking criminal activity. The end result is violence, murder, despair – and fear.
Even though our public schools are in shambles, and many are extremely dangerous places for student and teacher alike, most parents have no options. When education is trumped by survival, everybody loses.
So why doesn’t the system change? Greed. Not to sound like a broken record, but much of the fault lies with the teachers’ unions. They fear school choice because it injects competition into our schools, and that will rain misery on their little fiefdoms. Their incompetence will be exposed, and people will finally see that the system’s failure has nothing to do with a lack of money. But since so many of our politicians, especially in Philadelphia, are in bed with these unions, school choice programs continue to be thwarted. Yes, the union leadership wields immense political power because they reap millions in forced union dues, which are used for partisan purposes. But how long can we be held hostage to them?
Break the stranglehold of the union, and you break the violence, both in our schools and our city.
When parents have a choice in their children’s education, schools that perform will attract more students and succeed, and those that continue with the status quo will lose students and fail. For the first time in generations, school choice will allow our students to actually learn the skills necessary to succeed in life.
But instead of action on choice, all we hear is empty rhetoric.
How much more blood will be spilled before we act?
Chris Freind can be reached at [email protected]