Wow. Who knew? Back when I started the school choice process in my third ever post, I listed “community” as one of the key factors in my school choice. I looked at it from the perspective of the benefits of a neighborhood school–the ability to walk to school, having friends in the neghborhood. I never looked at the huge negative of not choosing a neighborhood school–an extra commute.
My son started kindergarten last week. I had made a few dry runs of the trip and it seemed to work out alright–15 minutes. However, a dry run over the summer is no substitute for the real thing. At schooltime rush hour, with all of the busses and other parents out there, it was a much different story. Add to it the storms we had during the first week of school, and what I thought would be a 15-minute ride turned out to be more like 30 (normal day) to 40 (stormy day). I am looking for shortcuts, but as a backup plan, my friends and I have already started looking into alternatives, including taking regional rail, the bus, and carpooling. I have tried taking a SEPTA bus a couple of times already. It is more relaxing, but the timing is not any better.
My coworker had a horrifying experience last week when his mother-in-law was waiting at the bus stop for his son. The bus arrived and his son wasn’t on it. For 15 harrowing minutes, they could not locate him. It turns out that he was still at the school, mistakenly sent to an afterschool program that he was not supposed to start until November.
This is all to say that test scores, teacher quality, facilities, academic philosophy are important, but don’t skip paying attention to the nuts and bolts stuff like transportation when choosing a school. Remember that the commute is something that you have to live with every day.
At least this problem will be alleviated because starting in first grade, kids are eligible for busing. Still, the whole transportation situation has put a sour aftertaste on what has otherwise been a sweet start to kidnergarten.
So much of this blog has been focused on my own experience, which has been cetered around picking an elementary school. The Notebook, a local periodical dedicated to educational reporting in Philadelphia, regularly publishes it’s Annual Fall Guide to High Schools. This year’s guide is downloadable from their website and includes info on:
There is a new game available for Apple iOS Devices that attempts to raise consciousness about issues in the district. It’s called “The Teachers of Philly” From their website,
The “Teachers of Philly” is a comic book/game created in response to school closings, educational programs being cut and thousands of school teachers across the United States being laid off due to massive budget deficits.
Interesting idea. Certainly it’s not something that I expected to be seeing or writing about. I just downloaded it, should be fun to try. You can download it yourself from iTunes using this link. Here’s a amusing video promo for the game and comic that poke fun at Ackerman and Nutter. Fun to watch even if you have no interest in iPhone games.
It’s that time of year again. School is back in session, and folks reading this blog are starting to narrow down their list of schools. Once schools settle in a bit, they turn their attention to future students through open houses. Starting as early as late September, schools across the region host open houses to give prospective families a chance to see their schools, meet teachers and faculty, observe casses in session, and get all of your questions answered.
To help parents navigate the process, last year I started a public calendar of school open houses throughout the Philadelphia region. However, as you can imagine it is a monster to maintain. I get emails asking me to add entries, and the emails don’t always have enough information about the event, so I have to follow up, etc. etc…. Did I mention that I already have full time job? The end result is a calendar with incomplete listings and listings that take a while to update.
But I have an answer! Philly School Search now has an online form that allows schools/interested parties to submit open house information for their school. It takes about a minute to complete the form (one submission per event) and I can push the events to the public calendar much more quickly than in the past. So schools–let me know about your event so families across the region can discover them!