Confessions of a Conflicted Public School Advocate

By Anonymous

Who would have thought that picking a school for our kids would make me feel like I was back in 8th grade again??  It’s a constant whirl of asking people what they are doing and having people watch us, or so it feels.  It’s the constant going over of priorities in my head, what really matters to me I ask myself so many times in a day, and then so quickly I feel undermined by what other people are doing, next year, last week, in three years to come.  Some of this is surely my own baggage, but as with everything else in parenthood my school-picking journey has been fraught with wondering how people will see me/us; I really am clear about what matters to me, my parents were public school teachers and then principles in New York City.  My brother and I went to public schools in New York from kindergarten on, and it was a rich experience.  We met people of all kinds, though I am still struck by the fact that the friends we became the closest with were so much like us.  We were driven into East Harlem from K-8 to attend Deborah Meir schools (for those of you who don’t know, Debbie Meir received a MacArthur grant for her establishment of educational institutions in New York and then in Boston) and yet we remained the closest with the kids on our bus, the ones who lived in neighborhoods more like ours.

For numerous reasons, my family doesn’t feel that our neighborhood school is a good fit.  I have a lot of anger that my kid’s neighborhood school is not a choice after having been the kid whose own parents never went on a school trip with me because they were teaching other people’s children.  I feel like a good school should be a choice within easy reach and it’s not, really, in so many places in Philadelphia.  We are waiting on the lottery to get us into one of the three public schools that we like from afar and that is a scary place to be.   The obvious next issue is where we will live if/when the lottery doesn’t go our way and so I spend lots of hours in the night worrying about the slippery slope of it all.  I am, on the one hand, dropping my jaw in horror at the tuitions our friends are shelling out for pre-K, even, many people we meet in Fairmount openly say that they had just one kid so that they could afford to carry on at such high rates of tuition for their child.  But I am also somehow judging the people we know who move out to the ‘burbs.  How, how, how will we live by our values and within our means when we too choose to move beyond our neighborhood school and try to opt in elsewhere?

[edited 2/22/2010, added “by anonymous” for clarification–Len]


Words from a Waldorf Parent

The following was posted to a Philadelphia Speaks discussion thread on Waldorf.  It is a testimonial from an (unverified) Waldorf parent.

I have two daughters at Waldorf. My eldest spent some time at a Friends school before moving over in 2nd grade.

The Philly Waldorf School is fairly liberal when it comes to the Waldorf curriculum/philosophy. That is, teachers interpret as they see fit, some families have TV sets in their houses, and the gnomes are only allowed in the school on Thursdays.

That is to say, it’s a pretty laid back place in many ways, and welcoming to different views. The families are normal, CC and Mt Airy types – not zealots or cult members.

There are no cellphones, no computers, no Mickey Mouse t-shirts (or other corporate/logo clothes). And if your kid brings Oreos as a snack you’ll get a polite note asking you to please refrain from sending sugary snacks. The cookies are fed to the gnomes.

Of course you wouldn’t ever send Oreos, Read the rest of this entry »

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

Great Resource: PhillySpeaks Forums

By Anonymous

I don’t know whether you ever get on (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.


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