Giving Compass' Take:

• Kevin Mahnken reports that a study linked failing schools to higher crime rates in Philadelphia. 

• How can funders work to ensure that students have schools that can help them succeed? What is needed to break the cycle of poverty and crime? 

• Read about efforts to close the school to prison pipeline.

Now research shows that serially underperforming schools might not just be holding back students’ achievement; they seem to be driving higher rates of crime as well.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the closure of more than two dozen low-performing schools in Philadelphia led to a significant reduction in crime — particularly violent crime — both in the surrounding areas and throughout the city. The greater the number of students who left a given school, the greater the decline in crime rates, the authors found.

The study examines the two-year period between 2011 and 2013 when local authorities shuttered 29 public schools throughout Philadelphia, roughly 10 percent of all schools in the city. The decision was made by the School Reform Commission, a state-run panel created in 2001 to lead the school district out of its academic and financial challenges. The move was meant to address Philadelphia’s plummeting public school enrollment, and like many reforms undertaken before the district returned to local control last year, the closures proved controversial.

Using data from the Philadelphia Police Department, Steinberg and MacDonald found that in census blocks (the Census Bureau’s smallest geographic unit, often assembled together in block groups of roughly 1,500 people) where a school had been closed in the 2011-13 period, crime declined by 15 percent (roughly 1.4 incidences per month). Violent crime — defined as assaults, robberies, rapes or murders — declined by 30 percent (roughly 0.6 incidences per month).

Read the full article about failing schools and higher rates of crime by Kevin Mahnken at The 74.