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.
Last month, Hauger spoke at TedXPhilly about his experience directing the Hybrid X Team. The video (including an clip featuring President Obama) is embedded below. In the talk, Hauger highlighted the accomplishments of the Hybrid X Team and spoke about standardized testing and education reform,
In the 15 years I’ve been working for the Philadelphia school district, I’ve survived four different reforms. They’re all basically the same. They change the terminology but the fundamental approach is the same.
Hauger actually is dreaming bigger. He wants to start a school, Green Technology High School. I hope his ideas are successful–I’d love to send my kids to such a school when they are old enough. Our education system needs more leaders and pioneers like him.
We may remember a time when kids just went to their neighborhood school. But this isn’t Kansas anymore. There are lots of options and lots of different application processes for parents nowadays. We started school hunting at the dining room table and finally I threw my hands up…what are ALL the options?! Every time I thought I knew it all, another school popped up! I wanted to have all my options before deciding which schools to look at and which open houses to attend, so here is a brief Elementary School Options 101.
Neighborhood Public School: There is a school for every neighborhood in Philly. Maps of the catchment areas can be found on our map page and through the city by address.
Friends Schools: Though there are private Quaker or “Friends” schools all over the country, there is a uniquely heavy concentration of them in Philadelphia. I didn’t include these in the religiously affiliated because over 95% of the students who attend these schools are not Quaker, but they do have a Quaker philosophy and usually require students to attend “Meeting for Worship”. Adherence to “strict Quakerism” (which many would consider to be an oxymoron) varies from school to school. Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of Friends schools throughout the world. Many are listed under the high schools. Be sure to read our article “The Friends School Mystique” and check out the Friends Council on Education website if you are considering this path. Take note–not all Quaker-affiliated schools have ‘Friends” in the name. Penn Charter (a private Quaker school, not a charter school) and the Westtown School are two examples.
“Tune Up Philly believes that music education is a powerful instrument in the development of children in challenging social and economic conditions. As they develop their creativity and self-expression during year-round, out-of-school-hours classical music training, the children will acquire valuable tools for cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success, and self-esteem.” – Stanford Thompson, Director
Thompson spoke recently at the TEDXPhilly Conference about the importance of after school programs and how music serves as a vehicle for social change. His students come on stage for a string performance that reduces the crowd (and me) to tears.
Stanford Thompson speaks about the importance of after school programs and how music serves as a vehicle for social change. See Stanford’s students come on stage for a string performance that reduces the crowd to tears.