He disagreed and for one very good reason: he might get shot. He cited a problem his brother had a few years ago wherein they were on the street somewhere and the brother - along with two other friends - were shot so that a perpetrator could steal whatever they had on them.
I have been talking about how my students have experienced hardships in their neighborhoods but never heard it from one of their own mouths before (the fact that a former student of my school was shot and killed two weeks ago doesn't help either).
While I wholeheartedly agree that the teacher is the most effective and important part of a student's learning, the neighborhood can have a decidedly negative effect that could counteract it. If neighborhood schools were safer, perhaps some of my students would spend 10 minutes walking to and from school and not waste the 2 hours daily this kid has to. That time could be spent reading, writing, completing homework assignments, or maybe participating in an after-school program.
The violence at schools like Audenreid HS and South Philadelphia HS is just one example of the many problems our schools have. For that reason I am glad that the position of Safe Schools Advocate is being re-introduced. An independent observer focusing on violence in schools might force the District to spend money on people helping students or peer mediation programs instead of turning our schools into prisons with video cameras everywhere (besides, what can a camera do in the event of a problem? it can contact the authorities, but people walking the halls can act immediately). Programs like Restorative Justice or Positive Behavioral Supports are just two of many that have helped me become a better teacher in my brief two years.
If we can curb the violence in and around our schools, maybe the students will be more willing and able to focus on what they need to: their education.