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Polis Report

Safety Patrol

By Clarence Cromwellar

The state recently released its long-awaited Safe Schools Assessment. Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin said that the assessment will dispel the myth that California's schools are unsafe.

But before anyone starts cheering too loudly, it's worth noting that educrats are only revealing to the public what they want to tell and when they want to tell it.

  • First, no one will give data about crimes at a particular school. The state compiles district averages instead, hiding over- and underachieving schools within a single districtwide ratio of crimes per thousand students. The picture is blurriest when you look at drug crimes in unified school districts, such as San Jose, where high schoolers do the drug crimes, but thousands of law-abiding juveniles water down the figures.

  • Parents can't check on the crime data they want. State and local education officals make it a point of not recording school-by-school crime data, a number of them said, because they don't want schools compared.

    Gail Evans, a program consultant for the department that completed the assessment, said it would be unfair to compare school districts because their crime levels are usually based on crime in their surrounding communities. She said the survey was set up mainly to find statewide school crime problems and help districts pinpoint their own crime problems.

  • An entirely different problem is that the data are out of date. The report recently released is based on the 1995­96 school year. Parents who want to know how safe kids were last fall are expected to wait until spring 1998 for the next state report. Most local officials decline to release their data until the state has done its crunching and spinning with the numbers.

    Worried about the kids? Wait another year and we'll have some very positive statewide figures for you.

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  • From the May 15-21, 1997 issue of Metro

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    Copyright © 1997 Metro Publishing, Inc.

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