Resolve the Conflicts

Recommendation 1

Recognize intergroup conflicts are a system-wide problem that requires a system-wide solution.

The hearings convened by the Commission uncovered a painful truth: intergroup conflicts in Philadelphia schools are not isolated incidents but can happen in any school at any grade level; intergroup conflicts are a system-wide problem. They exist not only across racial and ethnic differences but also involve conflicts based on sex, sexual orientation, disability status, gender identity, and national origin.

This problem creates serious obstacles to student learning, parent participation, and the professional aspirations of teachers and administrators, and requires the District's immediate attention.

The District already has in place various policies and programs, particularly its Imagine 2014 strategic plan. In the guiding principles of Imagine 2014, the District implicitly addresses the problem of intergroup conflicts by its attention to areas that are likely to be the source of tension between and among the District's key constituencies.

Beyond setting policy, however, the District must act proactively and speak passionately about the District's mission and leadership role in assuring a safe, caring, and positive learning environment for all students when responding to incidents of intergroup conflicts.

It is no longer acceptable to enact selective policies and programs at individual schools. The problem of intergroup conflicts requires a system-wide response that conveys consistent and clear expectations and involves community members, students, and teachers. The District must take concerted and swift action to resolve the conflicts, track the conflicts, and prevent future conflicts.

We focus our recommendations to the District on the areas of resolving, tracking, and preventing intergroup conflict, with a particular emphasis on language interpretation and translation, to align with the Commission's mandate to promote peace and harmony among different groups, educate Philadelphians about intergroup conflicts, and to enforce the City's anti-discrimination laws.