School Success Criteria Vol 1: Parents

In the news lately there has been a lot of talk of underperforming “Renaissance” schools who will forced to dismiss many of their teachers.  On the one hand, I applaud the attempt to shock our worst schools into improvement.  On the other hand, I am dismayed that the teachers are being disproportionately punished for the failures of their schools.  It occurred to me that so many factors contribute to the success of schools beyond the teachers.  I am going to try to go about hypothesizing what those factors are so that can be an angle for my research and school visits moving forward.

My first hypothesis–schools that have involved parents perform better.  Groundbreaking idea, I know.

On a recent tour of Meredith, I was struck by how many Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

The Lower Merion School District Paradox

Lower Merion School District (LMSD) is known to be one of the best school districts in Pennsylvania, despite the recent laptop-webcam scandal.  I have toured two of the public elementary schools already and they seem to be amazing.  It would seem like a no-brainer that I would want to move my family there for the schools if the decision was purely based on school quality.  Of course, there are issues that are important to me beyond school quality (see the choice criteria tag plus personal issues like commute times and financial), but let me put them aside for the purposes of this post.  Are there other reasons that LMSD is not the best choice?

Drawing the school districting lines for the Lower Merion School district last year was a contentious issue, involving loud town hall meetings, angry allegations of racism, lawsuits, and now a federal investigation.  Should that controversy also be a factor?  Read the rest of this entry »

Lower Merion–Spies Like Us?

Lower Merion has long been the no-brainer school choice.  Living in the city is a priority for me, but when schools are a factor, it is hard for Philadelphia School District’s beleaguered system to compete with what some consider to be one of the best public school districts in the country.  Until now, perhaps?

Unless you have been living under a rock over the last few days, you have most likely heard about the lawsuit filed by several students of Harriton High School alleging that school administrators spied on them at home using Read the rest of this entry »

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

This blog got very popular very quickly.  I have no illusions that it is about anything that I am doing.  I am certain that it is all about the shared anxiety we have as parents of soon-to-be-school aged kids.  I have only gotten one community submission on the emotional aspect of this process, but, as a result of finding this blog, many strangers and friends are reaching out to me to share their fears and anxieties without formally submitting stories.

The conversations often go something like this.  “We love our Philadelphia neighborhood, but we hate our local public school.  We believe in public school, just not the public school option available to us here.  We can’t afford private schools [or we don’t think that they are the best option].  We can’t count on getting into Read the rest of this entry »

Judge a Book By Its Cover?

I am perusing different school websites to start my research.  I probably shouldn’t pre-judge a school by its site, but the Meredith School website is pretty lame and it bugs me.  Jenks is a little better.  Penn Alexander blows them both away–better design, more information for parents, better secondary resources.  Of course I want a school to pay attention to education first, website second (or third), so I won’t let this influence my decision by much, but it does make me think.  Lower Merion sets the bar even higher, but that is a district site, not an individual school.  For a fair comparison, the Philadelphia school district site is pretty darn good.