I was speaking to an ivy-educated friend (and parent) the other night about Philadelphia elementary school choices. He halted the conversation when he said (I’m paraphrasing), ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but I essentially am looking at one thing in a school. How likely is it that my child will be able to get into an ivy or near-ivy level college?’
The politically correct side of me was immediately taken aback. What about diversity? What about community? What about supporting the local public school effort? Then I became jealous of his clarity. His family is fortunate enough to be able to afford private school, but when it comes down to it, so am I, and so are many people that I know, whether we care to admit it. It is certainly more socially acceptable to downplay our economic status. Parents spend in the neighborhood of $10K a child per year for day care, it’s not that great a financial leap to most private schools for kindergarten. Over the last couple of months I am learning about the school choices of many of my friends and casual acquaintances who have children starting this Fall. These are people who I know share my values. If you had asked me last year, I would have guessed that they would have chosen a public school. I have been surprised not only by the number of people who have been choosing private school, but by the fact that they all seem to be choosing one particular private school. What is that about? Continue reading →
It turns out that I am not alone. You may read this and realize that you, too, are not alone. Edutopia, the website of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, recently published an article on how, in Philadelphia, more and more affluent families are choosing city public schools. The article focuses on Society Hill/McCall and Mount Airy/CW Henry schools, but the movement has been catching on throughout the city in neighborhoods like South and West Philly. It seems that people in and out of Philadelphia are noticing that more and more Philadelphia parents want their children to be a part of racially and economically diverse public schools even when they can afford private schools. The challenge with that has traditionally been the quality (actual or perceived) of the public schools. However, through the efforts of parents in those communities, the schools have Continue reading →
As a West Philly parent of an infant, toddler or preschooler, are you concerned about your choices for kindergarten and beyond? Do you want for your neighborhood school to be the best choice for your children? Do you want to start the hard work of closing the disparities in educational options in our West Philly neighborhoods?
The first message was posted to this group on June 16 and there are less than 60 members as of this writing, so it is too early to say whether this group will be able to build momentum and bring about substantive changes, but is encouraging to see parents stepping up like this around the city. For too long we have scapegoated teachers and schools for the problems we have teaching our children. Parents at home, parents being involved at school–those are really the key factors to improving a school system.
Last week I wrote about the Pew report that discussed the effect of charters on other school options and on parent’s perceptions of those options. There has been a lot of talk and heated discussion about that report, and the Philadelphia Daily News published a great editorial on the topic today.