Penn Alexander Crapshoot

The Inquirer today published a story on how the Penn Alexander School has led  to a positive transformation of its university city neighborhood.  As a life-long Philadelphian, I know how the area around Penn has historically been a haven for poverty and crime, and as a Penn alumnus I have personally enjoyed watching the change.

Only on the last couple of paragraphs of the article does my personal worry about choosing Penn Alexander appear.

There are about 50 kindergarten slots at Penn Alexander. Acceptance, unnervingly, is first come, first served.

Anecdotally, I have also spoken to friends in the catchment who are amazed with the recent influx of families to the catchment and wonder how the school will respond.  Ummm, what if I move into the Penn Alexander catchment and thenI am unable to secure a spot for my child?  It is hard to justify paying a $100K premium on a house to move into the catchment just to have to find a school elsewhere.  The fact that the article was published can only lead to more interest in the school, making the admission that much more difficult.  I’m not sure that I understand how a public school (albeit partially sponsored by The University of Pennsylvania and its Graduate School of Education) can be allowed to deny admission to students within its catchment.  How many are turned away?  What do those families do?

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