Way back in the early stages of this blog, I wrote about how in most conversations with Philadelphia parents, the same list of “hot” public and charter schools is always discussed. It’s probably not a mystery to you, but the schools I heard about the most were:
Philadelphia Public Schools (alphabetically): Greenfield (Center City) * Henry (Mount Airy) * Houston (Mt. Airy) * Jenks (Chestnut Hill) * McCall (Center City) * Meredith (Queen Village) * Penn Alexander (West Philly)
My concern back then (which turned out to be justified) was that with so many people vying for spots in the same trendy schools, the chances of getting into a school via the Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) within the School District of Philadelphia or selected in a charter lottery is small. I listed several schools that I thought were worth further consideration that might be off of the radar of most parents. Here is what I wrote about them:
- Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures (FACTS) Charter School (Chinatown) This Chinese language immersion elementary school has a diverse student body (70% Asian, 21% African-American) stellar math scores, but pretty low reading scores. FACTS serves many immigrant students (i.e., non-native English speakers), I presume that the low reading scores are in part the result of that, but I have no evidence to confirm that hypothesis. I love the idea of a language immersion programs, so this school is particularly attractive to me.
- Christopher Columbus Charter School (Bella Vista)–They have a nice diversity (35% African American, 51% White) and almost all of their teachers have 5 or more years of teaching experience. They have a troubling 22:1 student/teacher ratio (as does Independence charter, by the way), however and the parent involvement website hasn’t been updated in almost a year.
- Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (South Philadelphia)- It’s hard to argue with their test scores–90% score proficient or higher on math 71% on reading (3rd grade). Not sure my oldest would be interested in this type of curriculum though.
- Andrew Jackson Elementary (South Philly) – I wrote about an article showcasing how parental involvement has really boosted this school. Is it on par with the others?
In over a year since, I have learned about a lot more schools and thought I’d share some additional “unusual suspects”.
- Bache-Martin (Fairmount): There is a grassroots effort blossoming across the city for residents to improve their neighborhood schools. Fairmount is one of those neighborhoods rallying around their catchment school.
- Cook-Wissahickon Elementary (Roxborough): Another school with a neighborhood rallying behind it.
- Henry Lea Elementary (West Philly): One of the most visible community rallying efforts in the city, the West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools is championing this neighborhood. With changes to enrollment rules at neighboring Penn Alexander, Lea is getting a lot of neighborhood attention and will likely see lots of improvement.
- Wissahickon Charter (NW Philly): This school has a focus on environmental education, and is run by a couple of impressive Haverford grads. Their reputation seems to improve every year.
What other Philadelphia public and charter schools do you think parents should also be considering?