Every spring, parents of 4th graders anxiously wonder whether their child will be accepted into Masterman or GAMP or another of the city’s seven special admission middle schools and programs. What follows when the letters finally arrive are either triumphant smiles or downcast eyes.
Then begins the exodus, as neighborhood schools across the city are stripped of their top students.
A child asks for a puppy. Presented with a hole-punched gift box, he opens it with excitement, only to find a venomous snake.
So it was with the cigarette tax. As public school advocates, we pleaded for the revenue that the cigarette tax would provide. Although we got the funding we asked for, it was delivered with a life-threatening twist. The bill’s last-minute addition, which reopened the District to new charter school applications and allowed an appeal process for those rejected, threatens the existence of the District schools we sought to help. Each new charter seat added drains even further the resources needed to keep District schools afloat.
Frequent Inquirer contributor Clark DeLeon recently wrote that he “has given up on the Philadelphia public schools." He asks why any young person would want to send their kids to a public school here and wonders where the fearlessness of “the endless stream of young, hip parents biking their helmeted toddlers through Center City traffic or adjoining neighborhoods” goes when it comes time to choose a school.
I’m not a millennial (I was born at the tail end of the baby boom), but I can answer his question.
Serene, mind-and-body nourishment or headache-inducing dysfunction? Yoga or City Hall?
Every Monday morning, I adjust my work hours so I can attend a weekly yoga class. So when the School District of Philadelphia sent out a call this week for public education supporters to be at City Hall on Monday morning, while Superintendent William Hite and School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green plead to City Council for more money, I had to think about whether I wanted to endure yet another dog-and-pony show at City Hall.
It came in like a wrecking ball ...
I’ve been subjected to hearing my 10-year-old daughter play Miley Cyrus’ song "Wrecking Ball" many times. Some parents hear this song and envision the provocative music video. I’ve come to relate it to the universal enrollment plan being proposed for Philadelphia's schools. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and I was blindsided.
I consider myself a fairly informed public school parent. I attend School Reform Commission meetings, participate in various workgroups, and faithfully read this publication's morning news roundup. So when the Great Schools Compact, an education-reform initiative that seeks to replace poor-performing seats with high-quality alternatives, released its agreement at the end of 2011, I didn’t recall any red flags about universal enrollment as a plan to privatize the School District’s placement office and assign students to one school.