MAPN Annual Kindergarten Discussion Group

The Mt. Airy Parents’ Network (MAPN) has been mentioned already on this blog. You should also be familiar with the group’s Annual Kindergarten Discussion Group. For three years, MAPN has sponsored a discussion group for families exploring their education options (despite the name, it’s not just limited to kindergarten discussions). Notices are usually posted on the MAPN discussion board in May, June, and July. Any interested member may join. The discussions take place via email usually between August and November. The direction that the group takes and how active it is depends totally on the make-up of the group. For example, the 2007 and 2009 groups were very active and busy, while the 2008 group really wasn’t. If you’re interested in learning more, please join the MAPN list or leave a comment on this post.

Best of luck!
Catherine Collins
MAPN Moderator & Co-founder

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Open House at the Waldorf School

This was posted by a user to the Fairmount Parents Forum.

For those who are interested in finding out about The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, there is an Open House this Saturday, January 30th at 10 AM. You are welcome to come with your family to visit the classrooms, view students’ work, and ask questions of the faculty, staff and parents. During the morning, the faculty will present an overview of the Early Childhood and Grades programs. There will also be a puppet play for the younger children and activities available for older children.

Unique aspects of the school are that they purposefully do not have computers because

By delaying the regular use of television, video games and computers, children develop a strong foundation in using their own capacities and experiences for imagination, research and analytical and critical thinking. (Waldorf Website)

Also, students have the same teachers follow them through their whole academic career there (first through eighth, though they have a preschool and kindergarten).  See more in the NBC-10 video on the school.

Reactions to the New Philadelphia Teachers Contract

I posted before that I feel positive about the contract from what I had heard at that point but that I was interested to hear what the experts had to say.  Here are some more reactions from local media sources.

The reactions seem to be generally positive across the board for the contract itself, though some teachers were (rightfully, in my opinion) unhappy at the way that the contract was presented to them.  I am hopeful that this contract is steering the School District of Philadelphia in the right direction for the long term.  As I read more and more about the contract, I feel more comfortable with the idea of enrolling my kids in the Philadelphia public school in the coming years.

Great Resource: PhillySpeaks Forums

By Anonymous

I don’t know whether you ever get on philadelphiaspeaks.com (formerly phillyblog), but there seems to be a post at least every couple weeks about people dealing with school choice issues. Here are some recent discussion threads:

Contribute Your Experiences to the Philly School Search Blog

This blog started one month ago to document the school selection process of one family. The goal was to get feedback from others who are doing the same, and for helping future school researchers navigate the educational waters.

We are hoping that this is a community blog–we want it to reflect the experiences of many regional parents and not just the specific experiences and biases of its founder. As such, we invite you to share your thoughts in one of two ways.

  1. Become a contributing blogger on Philly School Search.  The commitment is what you make of it–post daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. If you or someone you know might want to contribute, let us know.
  2. If you don’t want to make the commitment to becoming a contributing blogger or you wish to remain anonymous, write about your experiences and send them to Len for review.  Examples of contributions that we would welcome might be “Why I chose XYZ school” , “How I navigated the competitive private school admission process” or “How I talked my way into XYZ school.”  If accepted, he will post them under this new “PSS Community” author.   If you are interested in submitting content, let us know.

Thanks!

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New Philly Teacher Contract Has Performance Incentives

The new teachers contract includes additional pay and pretty draconian measures for schools that aren’t up to snuff.  The Inquirer reports:

In schools targeted for the “Renaissance Program,” the entire staff can be forced to transfer out and only up to 50 percent rehired at the school by its new management. Teachers working in those schools, which are to be identified in the coming months, also will earn more Read the rest of this entry »

Are Elementary School Test Scores Important?

I am divided over how to use standardized test scores mandated as a part of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as a input into the elementary school selection process.  On the one hand, I scoff at NCLB because it encourages schools to ‘teach to the test’ instead of teaching to the student.  On the other hand, I admit that I care how well the students do on standardized tests at the schools that I am considering.  This admittedly hypocritical stance reminded me of this cartoon I recently saw that I appended to the end of this post.  My apologies for the off-color language.

A great quick and dirty source for test score data is a resource that I blogged about earlier this week, GreatSchools.org.  They track a variety of different Read the rest of this entry »