A rough high school in Philadelphia was recently compared to Vietnam by a longtime social studies teacher at the school. Stephen Pfeiffer, who was an Army and Vietnam veteran, said he had a better chance in Vietnam, than in Bartram High School in southwest Philadelphia. He said he just locks his door and prays nobody comes in.
The staff at Bartram High School describe the school as a “frightening place,” where drug use and fights are common problems seen everyday. Students roam the hallways in large groups and there is no control over the high school according to the building engineer, Rudy Helton. Mr. Helton has been busy replacing locks that were broken when students burglarize the classrooms. Bartram High School first made national publicity in 1999, when a student shot an assistant principal.
On March 21st, a staffer at Bartram High School, was attacked and knocked unconscious by a student. The staffer, Alphonso Stevenson was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including a concussion, fractured skull and other injuries. He has since been released from the hospital. A photograph was posted on Twitter the day of the attack showing Mr. Stevenson knocked out on the floor of this rough high school. According to witnesses, Stevenson was in a basement hallway, when attacked by a 17-year old student who banged his head against the wall. As Mr. Stevenson lay unconscious, students swarmed around him taking pictures and videos with their cellphones. Some were to go viral. Philadelphia police arrested the 17-year old and charged him with aggravated assault.
Teacher’s union officials described the attack as the worst since 2007, when a student allegedly broke the neck of a teacher at Germantown High School in Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, two staffers were also attacked at Bartram High School the same week that Mr. Stevenson was attacked. Only last week Bartram High School was locked down after a brawl in the cafeteria. Philadelphia police arrested six students according to the teachers union.
The recent attacks seem to corroborate social studies teacher Stephen Pfeiffer’s suggestion that Bartram High School was comparable to his experience in Vietnam. Pfeiffer says students just show up for school when they want. There is mass tardiness and truancy, according to Pfeiffer. He says you can’t educate, when students don’t even come to school. He says only eight students, out of thirty usually show up for his first-period class. Pfeiffer claims that you cannot smoke in a bar in Philadelphia, but you can smoke weed and cigarettes at Bartram High School. Pfeiffer says there are so many teacher vacancies at the rough high school that some students have substitute teachers all day long.
Students describe this rough high school as out of control. They describe Bartram High School as having no structure, where kids do whatever they want. The Philadelphia School District reports that Bartram High School students are 100 percent economically disadvantaged. So far this school year, Bartram High School, which was compared to Vietnam by one its teachers, has had 34 serious incidents reported to police.
By John J. Poltonowicz