Saving Strawberry Mansion High School: One of The Most Dangerous Schools In the Nation

Strawberry Mansion High School is located in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood. It’s considered one of the most dangerous high schools in the country. At the beginning of the 2012 school year, 435 students were enrolled.

With 94 cameras, six school police offers and two metal detectors, ABC’s Diane Sawyer gives viewers an inside look at what life is like for these students.

The current principal is Linda Cliatt-Wayman. She is the fourth the high school principal they’ve had in four years. Before coming to Strawberry Mansion, she was an assistant superintendent of high schools for the Philadelphia public school system.

“I could not find a principal who was suitable to handle this school,” Cliatt-Wayman said. “Therefore, I said to myself, because I love these students dearly and I knew the community … I would just volunteer to be the principal.”

Since she started last fall, the number of incidents have been cut in half. There have been 49 incidents from fires to teacher attacks reported in or near the school. In the report, ABC News’ cameras captured students fighting in the cafeteria and being bullied, as well as students who shared their dreams of going to college.

Despite the fear and daily violence, many bright students emerge from the bunch aspiring to achieve more in life.

You can watch the rest of the report here.

Here’s more information on how you can help the students at Strawberry Mansion High School.

Photo from ABC News

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Default Rates Still Up, But Economy Is Recovering

According to Moody’s Investors Service, the number of U.S. municipal bond defaults is higher than it was before the economic crash, but it’s still a low number. Our economy has been slow to recover, but it is gradually improving as time goes on. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed the fact that some cities and local governments are now struggling just to stay afloat.

Moody’s, whose CEO is Raymond McDaniel, said, “Revenue and spending pressures from the sluggish economic recovery, including soaring pension costs, have intensified credit stress faced by local governments.”

But at the same time, the credit rating agency expects that most of these local governments will be able to adjust their budgets accordingly, though there are still a hard few years ahead.

But financially, some areas are looking up. The Dow ended above 15,000 points for the first time this week, higher than it ever was before the financial crisis started. Corporations are, in general, seeing strong profits. And investors are feeling more confident in the market. That confidence will lend itself well, helping the market to continue improving.

The housing market is beginning to recover as well, which many take as a clear sign that things are getting better. Unfortunately, we still have a long and arduous road ahead. But for now, things are looking stable.

The sequester, of course, is still on many people’s minds. A solution must be found, and it is one that only the U.S. Congress can make. Let’s hope that somehow, they can find a compromise and get our federal budget back under control as well.

NYCHA Knocks Out Another Chunk of Repair Backlog

At the beginning of this year, the New York City Housing Authority had a backlog of 422,639 repairs work orders. In January, NYCHA and Mayor Bloomberg announced a new action plan designed to knock out the repair backlog by the end of the year. The plan included hiring on a number of new maintenance employees and efficiently completing more repairs each day than came in.

As of May 1st, NYCHA announced another significant milestone in their progress: another 148,859 repairs were knocked off of the backlog, meaning that NYCHA maintenance workers closed out that many more repairs than came in during the same period.

The ideal ratio of workers to apartments is 1:250, and NYCHA is nearly at that ratio. Having an “ideal” ratio would keep another backlog from building up and would significantly reduce wait time for repair completion. There are nearly half a million people living in NYCHA housing developments, and the number of work-in-progress repairs should eventually sit around 90,000 at any given point in time.

Cecil House is NYCHA General Manager, and has been a key player in getting the repair backlog taken care of. In just the first two months of implementing the plan, more than 73,000 work orders were completed. This most recent reduction in work orders brings the backlog down to 273,780, which is well ahead of schedule.

The original forecasted number of outstanding work orders for June 1st is set at 250,200, meaning that only about 20,300 more repairs need to be completed in the next month to reach that goal. NYCHA’s average monthly completion rate, however, has averaged between thirty and forty thousand. At that rate, the backlog could conceivably be eliminated well before the year is up.

NYCHA originally outlined its goal of expediting maintenance and repairs in its PlanNYCHA: A Roadmap for Preservation initiative, and so far they are certainly proving that they are dedicated to the task.

Photo courtesy NYCHA

Boston Bombing Survivor Vows To Dance Again

One month after the Boston Marathon bombing, survivors have vowed to start over and move on from the tragedy. Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dance instructor who lost her foot in the Boston bombings, says she’s determined to dance again. Haslet-Davis stood approximately five feet away from the second explosion with her husband and is thankful they are both alive.

While she faces months of grueling therapy, physical training as a dancer has helped her transition as she learns how to navigate the world with one leg. Adrianne agreed to let CNN’s Anderson Cooper follow her recovery.

She is adjusting to a new normal.

“I am getting my very first manicure and pedicure in 20 days today since the marathon. I am feeling more and more like a girl and feeling more normal even though only one of my feet are getting painted. Check those babies out,” she said.

Two and a half weeks after the bombing she visited the memorial on Boylston Street where it all happened.

“After seeing the memorial and seeing people there and just paying their respects and hearing people tell me that I was an inspiration. It’s very sweet first of all that they would want to give me their support but I think it’s also for them. It’s important for them to see that all of us that were affected were moving on and trying to find some sort of normalcy, and for them to be able to kind of have that knowledge that it goes, life goes on after such a horrible tragedy.”

She was also profiled on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
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“It’s the longest I’ve gone without dancing for as long as I remembered. I was in a very dark place,” Adrianne said. ”I absolutely will dance again. When I heard from Dancing With the Stars I was incredibly nervous, excited, happy. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Dancing with The Stars says they’ll help her choreograph a dance for a special guest appearance.

Photos by ABC and Arthur Murray Studio