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 improved and they have also effectively communicated their improvements to a point where public perceptions have changed. With those changed perceptions, families who might have traditionally chosen private schools instead are not only comfortable with public schools, they are enthusiastic.
My family is leaning towards making the decision to go with a Philadelphia public school for my son who enters kindergarten in the fall of 2011. A lot of people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them this. They ask, ‘isn’t it dangerous?’ or ‘will they have good teachers?’ among other things. It is great to see that there are not only others that agree with me, but there is a full-fledged grassroots movement out there doing what I am thinking of doing. It comforts me and, to be honest, makes me proud of my city.