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After long search for new school for son, Philly mom happy but making big sacrifices

By Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner on Jan 2, 2013 01:35 PM
Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for NewsWorks

Cooper Harbol, 8, listens to a speaker at the Alliance for Progress Charter School orientation. His mother considered the school for Cooper, but ultimately sent him to Greene Street Friends School.

Driving her son Cooper to his first day of third grade, Karen Lewis wasn't happy.

"I'm so angry, and so annoyed, it's not funny," she said that day.

At the time, Lewis had just finished a six-month long search for a new school. After struggling to navigate the city's patchwork system of roughly 500 District, charter, and private schools, she was exhausted.

Her story, which appeared on NewsWorks and in the Public School Notebook, reflected the experience of many city parents desperate to find the right school for their kids.  

Three months later, Lewis is in a better place.

"I feel at peace," she said. "I feel like my child is learning and that he is going to become the child that he should be."

Cooper now attends Greene Street Friends, a private Quaker school in the city's Germantown section. He previously attended John Moffet Elementary, a District-managed neighborhood school in Kensington. Lewis says the difference is striking.

"I can see him working at his potential. I can see him being pushed," she said. "He's learning how to be a student."

Making her school choice work has not been easy for Lewis, though. Greene Street costs about $13,000 a year. Lewis said she's given up her health insurance and fallen behind on her mortgage in order to pay the tuition.

"Education is so important that I'm putting it as a top priority," she said. "Everything else, I'm sort of balancing and working out and renegotiating."

For the last year, city education leaders have been working to increase collaboration among the city's various school systems. The goal is to make it easier for parents like Lewis to find a "high-performing seat" for their children. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded the city a $2.5 million grant to further those efforts.

But looking across the city's education landscape, Lewis remains discouraged, especially with the Philadelphia School District's plan to close 37 schools.

"I don't think the [School Reform Commission] or the District really understands how difficult it is to shuttle a kid from one school to another," Lewis said. "To have that forced on you, it's just a nightmare."

Since her story originally appeared in print, online and on the radio, Lewis says, she's gotten a lot of feedback. A few anonymous online commenters questioned her choice -- and her parenting. But for the most part, Lewis says Philadelphians have backed her up and thanked her for speaking out about a common struggle.

"It's confirmed my belief that there are a lot of parents who really do care," she said.  

Lewis said she feels less alone now and more secure in her conviction to do whatever is necessary to secure the best education possible for Cooper.

"I'm a good mom, and I love my son," she said. "I know I made the right choice for him. Without a question."

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Comments (46)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 2, 2013 3:58 pm
Glad for Ms. Lewis. But really, falling behind on mortgage payments to make elementary school tuition payments? I do not blame Ms. Lewis for making the best choice she feels she can make. But we all have to agree that once again the "elephant in the room" is that the "high performing seats" consistently point to the seats in the higher socioeconomic schools/ neighborhoods. Today's Inquirer looks the other way on this point- refusing to acknowledge that "low performing seats" is synonymous with seats in impoverished neighborhoods. They call the cry of the poor- "politics". The Inquirer editorial board ought to be ashamed of themselves for their unabashed support for Hite, the SRC, and the Corbett.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on January 2, 2013 7:32 pm
I agree,the possible loss of her home is going to help her son exactly how?.....has she no friends of family?...as a former Friends Select grad, perhaps she could check out the school's academic graduation fund. I too think that he is her child and she is the parent and she gets to choose what she wants for her child, however, empty school rooms will not improve good teaching anymore than the poor spending of school funds by school administrators....as a teacher, I know all too well how money comes and yet it never seems to get any of the teaching items we teachers actually need.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 2, 2013 8:44 pm
It might be interesting to ask Ms. Lewis if she thinks what Friends has to offer can be reproduced in a public school. After all the tuition she is paying, $13,000, is close to, even less than what supposedly the PSD is getting per child, approximately $14,000. I seem to remember that she tried her best to work with her neighborhood school; and that her objection was not with the lack of resources or lack of ability of the teachers, or even with the attitude of the students (as kindergartners they were too young to have one yet), but rather with the condescending and punitive attitudes exhibited by the staff. Attitudes that resulted in her son not wanting to go to school, and her not feeling welcome there. One has to wonder if the socioeconomic factor is one that has to be applied to the staff as well. I do agree with Ms. Lewis that a child's early years of education matter a great deal. Leaving her child in a crippling situation for the sake of filling a classroom would not have helped the instruction either. It is not discrimination when one child's parent will make great sacrifices, and another child's will not. Poverty in this case is not the overruling factor, apathy or ignorance is. "Which came first?"/"chicken or egg?" dilemma aside.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on January 2, 2013 10:20 pm
Good points. I still wonder what the school[s] have to say. Sometimes parents hold up paperwork while other times teachers do not do the required paperwork, or the SDP does not follow through. I have a kid now who still does not have a pocket from his old school and he has been at my school since the first day we opened. Lastly, with the cuts made, any of the learning support staf have been cut, doubled and quadrupled up with students and then they have to go to three and four classrooms for kids never staying in one place to follow through with anyone. I hope that for the child and for the parent that she gets help with her funding, perhaps a better job or some sort of financial aid. Linda K.
Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on January 2, 2013 9:38 pm
Just read this editorial regarding the real issue impacting "education reform". No, clearly not our hometown paper, it's from the the Chicago Sun Times. http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/17268148-474/editorial-real-hurdle-to-e... The unrelenting pressure to test our children will continue to drive middle class parents from our public schools. Ms. Lewiis case illustrates the vast divide between the mandatory test prep education and the more enlightened options available to the more affluent in our society. To the extent that each individual parent (Ms Lewis) is off the hook the day a solution is found for her child, we all pay the price. Ms. Lewis pays the price in the falling behind on her mortgage payments. There is something gravely wrong with a system that leaves the best intentioned parents needing to borrow against the future for their child's education. There is something gravely wrong with a wealthy society such as ours that is comfortable denying children living in poverty the wonders afforded by an enlightened education. The best efforts of our best public teachers are stymied daily by crippling, time consuming test preparation. And the term "education reform" has become synonymous with a separate and unequal society.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 3, 2013 12:08 pm
You have a good point concerning test prep. What I don't understand is how test prep is the answer to improving test scores. In this profiled case, I'm not sure that this was the problem. Is test prep part of Kindergarten? Is that why the kids were treated with lack of feeling, and the mom with derision (which btw she still is, in a lot of these comments)? I agree that teachers are crippled in the PSD, and test prep is one of the shackles that seems to have been created by "someone" in the bureaucracy; however, in the microcosm of this case, a different outcome might have resulted with more sympathy with, and understanding for the mom. I don't believe she was being elitist, only that she cares very much about education. Why should this be an insurmountable hurdle? This story then is very relevant, because inevitably (if we keep asking how/why) we see that management is central, not just money or competence. As disruptive and threatening the breakup of the bureaucracy, those who would defend it have not come up with a real solution to its crippling results.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 8:10 pm
Ms. Cheng, I think that it's not just test prep, but also the curriculum that can cripple teachers. I have heard from numerous teachers, both in comments on Notebook stories and in person that Everyday Math makes teaching math difficult. I student taught at a District school and some of the teachers felt that the new planning and scheduling timeline with the Common Core State Standards was very hard to use. They still used their old PSTs as a guideline for teaching. One of these teachers who missed the old PSTs was a 29 year veteran of the SDP. In the time I spent at a Mastery Charter School, the benchmarks drive the curriculum. The benchmarks are mini PSSA tests, basically. The first benchmark, which students took during the first or second week of school, is a 4Sight test. People at the Network Support Team (NST) -- pronounced like "nest" -- create subsequent benchmark tests mostly using old PSSA questions. By the time the students have to take the PSSAs, they are prepared to take them. They are used to the format. Teachers teach how to answer particular questions. For example, students learn key words and phrases for addition and subtraction, such as "in all" or "altogether." In class assignments and lessons often involve questions and formats that are similar to what students will encounter on their benchmarks and the PSSAs. Teaching to the test isn't always a bad thing. The way in which teachers taught math at the Mastery school reflects the content that would be on the benchmark. Technically, the math curriculum was enVision, but the students never used the textbooks. Teachers taught content sequentially and would spiral in review using a do now and periodic review. Teaching one concept at a time makes more sense than Everyday Math, which skips from concept to concept. At Mastery, the teachers focused on one concept and built on it instead of skipping around. For example, I saw teachers teach 2 digit addition, then 2 digit addition with regrouping, then 2 digit subtraction, 2 digit subtraction with regrouping, then rounding addition and subtraction problems. So teaching to the test required that teachers at Mastery actually focus on a math concept instead of skipping around. Teaching one concept at a time is the traditional method for teaching math. I learned this way. I did see that at Mastery, there is not much incentive to teach content that is not on the benchmarks and PSSAs. So this could constitute narrowing of the curriculum. I heard teachers at Mastery talk about how certain types of questions were "all over the PSSA." I didn't hear this type of conversation at the District school where I student taught. So there are pluses and minuses to teaching to the test. Education Grad Student
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on January 4, 2013 10:27 pm
Hi EGS, I'm a teacher in the District (in a traditional public school). I teach addition and subtraction in the way that you just described, and my students are really getting it, unlike in prior years when my hands were tied by the EDM lesson sequence and rigid timeline. I don't teach to the test- I teach to deeper understanding, using the narrower scope of the Common Core as my guide. To do that, I seek out and use a wide variety of materials to meet my students' needs, and I expect that my students' future teachers will be pleased with the results. For me, the Common Core and the District's quarterly timelines are blessings, although I can appreciate that many teachers don't feel the same way about it that I do.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 5, 2013 4:51 am
What you've described - "I did see that at Mastery, there is not much incentive to teach content that is not on the benchmarks and PSSAs. So this could constitute narrowing of the curriculum. " - is teaching to the test. The PSSA/Keystone tests are very narrow - there is no application of knowledge, critical thinking, etc. It is not preparing students for the "real world." Schools should be much more than preparation for a test. No job will require bubble sheets. Many jobs require thinking outside the box. So, Mastery gets its scores up because that is what they do - teach students how to answer PSSA / Keystone questions. Is this happening at Masterman, Central, Friends Select? No.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 7, 2013 10:26 am
EGS, Thanks for taking the time to explain to me how test prep can improve test scores. Yes repetition and drill do have their merit for kids who have a lot on their minds other than school. I have seen this from sitting in on a class. Yet I would agree with the other comments in reply to yours that this has limited value in the long term, and can lead to a loss of interest in learning, or a superficial grasp of the same. From my experience with my own children, I would say that what is of more value in improving test scores would be the improvement of reading and vocabulary/English skills. Probably this is part of, in a limited way, test prep; however, we should not forget that retention involves engagement. My oldest son excelled in literary skills, and had very high test scores. He has however disengaged from formal education (dropped out) partly because he did so well on the standardized tests without having to work too hard, and seems to think that school is superficial. My younger son on the other hand did better with music than English, and had lower standardized test scores. When he and I worked on vocabulary (not PSD curriculum), his test scores improved, along with his reading skills. His standardized test scores are not as high as his brother's, but he has a better understanding of what he is learning.
Submitted by tom-104 on January 7, 2013 11:38 am
"From my experience with my own children, I would say that what is of more value in improving test scores would be the improvement of reading and vocabulary/English skills." This is what people have to get clear about. Testing (and test prep) are not teaching. Do we go to the doctor just to get a diagnosis of a health problem? We expect the doctor who has been trained in medicine to prescribe solutions based on the diagnosis. Testing should be used to measure students learning and skills and to diagnosis learning problems so as to make prescriptions for advancing the student's education, not demonize teachers and schools. This column from a Texas teacher blogger spells out what we face: http://www.policymic.com/articles/21555/standardized-testing-is-complete...
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 8, 2013 11:50 am
Thank you tom-104 for the reference to this article. I agree wholeheartedly with yours and its well stated point of view.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 2, 2013 10:20 pm
I agree with you, just a disgraceful article, based on no evidence to support it. Big Money powers the press too, obviously. This is a very dangerous time for democracy in general and Obama hasn't helped much to set the record straight. Frankly, he's been a punk overall but yikes, imagine if Romney were President !!
Submitted by Ken Derstine on January 3, 2013 8:58 am
People are starting to wake up to what is at stake in the attempt to privatize public schools: This is How Democracy Ends — An Apology from Middle Grades Mastery “America has long been known–despite our problems–as the country of freedom, innovation, and wealth. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is our democratic and free public education system. Prior to NCLB in 2002 and Race to the Top eight years later, standardization was limited to SAT and ACT tests, NAEP and PISA tests, and graduation exams for Advanced Placement courses. We valued music, art, drama, languages and the humanities just as much as valued science, math, and English (for the most part). We believed in the well-rounded education. Now, the Common Core State Standards has one goal: to create common people. The accompanying standardized tests have one purpose: to create standardized people. Why? Because the movers and the shakers have a vested interest in it. It’s about money and it’s about making sure all that money stays in one place. It’s been happening for a few years already. StudentsFirst, ALEC, the Walton and Broad and Gates Foundations, and other lobbying groups have created a false crisis in American education. They want you to believe that America is in sad educational shape so that they can play the hero. However, what they’ve begun is a snowball effect of legislation that devastates public education, teachers, and an already underfunded school system so that they can replace the public system, the unions, and the government employees with private systems that promise to pay less, bust unions, and remove benefits and pensions... Cooperation? Collaboration? Creativity? Communication? Critical thinking? Life skills? Only if there’s time (which there isn’t) and don’t expect it to be integrated or cohesive. That’s not what the training is for. Our students are now part of a larger plan–to prepare them for the “college and career readiness” laid out by the “job creators” on Wall Street–the ones that want your kids to understand that a job is what they’re trained for and that they are lucky to have, so stop whining about your pensions and benefits. And forget about belonging to one of those pesky unions–we will have outlawed them completely by then. But more importantly, all of the skills linked above lead our students to be profound, critical, and meaningful participants in a modern democracy. Some would argue that our days as a free country for the people and by the people are limited, and running out fast. If we continue to support the path that our nation’s educational system is on, we will speed up the end of our democracy. When students are forced to learn for the sake of a score and are denied the opportunity to think and reason and question and appreciate the world in which they live, they are all the more easy to control and deny basic rights. It’s already happening. I despise watching people discuss and debate issues in this country these days. No one knows how to do it.” Read more: http://mgmfocus.com/2012/12/18/this-is-how-democracy-ends-an-apology/
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on January 3, 2013 9:38 am
Completely agree-------Democracy ends when Free Education is compromised. Look at all the totalitarian regimes that ever existed and the first step was either religiously or educationally based infiltration by big money entities that separate and conquer the masses. Of course, Obama et al know this too but are letting it happen to the inner cities where virtually ALL the people of color voted for him. Slick Rick, I mean Barrack !!
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 8:13 pm
Hi Ken, I'm just starting my career as a teacher, so I feel that the views of experienced educators like yourself are in many ways more realistic and well-rounded than mine. That said, I think that Common Core State Standards are a very good reform. These provide a common foundation for reading and math for teachers and students. When teachers move to another state for a new job, they will be able to use the same materials they have because the standards will be the same or very similar (unless the state in which they have worked or will work has not yet adopted the CCSS). To teach involves teaching something. The CCSS specifies what that something is. There will soon be science standards. These standards will require the teaching of science instead of creationism or intelligent design. Having ELA standards means that students who are English Language Learners have to learn English. Obviously, it is appropriate to have ELLs partake in bilingual education or ELL instruction for some period of time, but eventually, they need to make the transition to learning in English. I have listed a couple of articles about the importance of having a common curriculum. One of these articles is from American Educator, and AFT publication. "Learning to Teach Nothing in Particular: A Uniquely American Educational Dilemma" by David K. Cohen http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/winter1011/index.cfm "Teaching, Rather Than Teachers, As a Path Toward Improving Classroom Instruction" by James Hiebert & Anne Morris, JTE, January 2012 http://jte.sagepub.com/content/63/2/92.abstract ---- In regards to another one of your points, I believe you hit the nail on the head: StudentsFirst, ALEC, the Walton and Broad and Gates Foundations, and other lobbying groups have created a false crisis in American education. They want you to believe that America is in sad educational shape so that they can play the hero. However, what they’ve begun is a snowball effect of legislation that devastates public education, teachers, and an already underfunded school system so that they can replace the public system, the unions, and the government employees with private systems that promise to pay less, bust unions, and remove benefits and pensions... I would suggest reading the article "The Bait and Switch of School Reform" at http://www.salon.com/2011/09/12/reformmoney/. This article explains the motives of many of the reformers. EGS
Submitted by Ken Derstine on January 4, 2013 11:15 pm
Ed Grad Student, That is a really excellent article by David Sirota at Salon. It is one of the best, most concise descriptions of corporate reform I have seen. Amazingly, it is over a year old, but seems even more on target today. While I understand you hope that Common Core will bring national standards for education, it is being introduced at the wrong time. It has gotten swept up in the gold rush mania of the corporate reformers and I fear that it will get lost in the "shock and awe" tactics of promoting their agenda. One of the biggest issues is how it will ramp up standardized testing. This article on a blog by a Texas middle school teacher spells it out: Standardized Testing is Completely Out of Control http://www.policymic.com/articles/21555/standardized-testing-is-complete... Also, the National School Boards Association points out that the Common Core is being opposed from both the right and the left for different reasons, but it does not have smooth sailing ahead: The Backlash Against Common Core http://www.asbj.com/MainMenuCategory/Archive/2013/January/The-Backlash-A...
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on January 3, 2013 8:52 am
Well I guess this story will just come to a bad ending when she and son get evicted. I guess the kid goes to another school unless they can get a cheap rental near the present school. I guess that is society's job to provide such housing. But that is the subject of the next article.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 6:17 pm
Anonymous, You make an important point about poverty being the "elephant in the room." In the current school reform movement, there is a refusal to acknowledge the impact of socioeconomic status (SES). Instead, the focus is all on teachers, and to a lesser extent, principals. Rich people, like Alice Walton of the Walton Foundation and Bill Gates, as well as conservatives who don't like taxes don't want to bring up the issue of SES because if the public was more aware of the impact of SES on education, then it would behoove the rich to pay more taxes and this nation to spend more on taxes. Everyone knows that SES matters. If SES didn't matter, then middle class parents wouldn't be so reluctant to have their children attend schools in poor and working class neighborhoods! EGS
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on January 4, 2013 6:22 pm
It would also behoove the Walmarts of this world to pay a living wage with benefits. Walmart is the slum lord of retail. The billions the Walton Foundation has to spend as it wants is taken out of the pockets of its underpaid workers. Microsoft isn't much better - nor Apple. How much of their "product" is produced in the U.S.? What do they pay their workers outside of the U.S.? Yes, SES matters and the corporate education money is coming out of the pockets of the parents of the children in our schools.
Submitted by tom-104 on January 4, 2013 7:42 pm
Microsoft (Gates Foundation) and Walmart (Walton Foundation) are two of the leading corporate reform organizations promoting charter schools. All of those huge profits they reap each year are being turned on society to fashion a world where corporate profit, rather than public good, is the sole purpose of existence.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 9:58 pm
Here's a great article about corporate reformers, The Bait and Switch of School Reform: http://www.salon.com/2011/09/12/reformmoney/.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 2, 2013 8:28 pm
How many more times are we to be subjected to the tale of Ms. Lewis and her plight? What is the lesson here? What will happen to her son when she loses her house, or is she hoping that by re-telling her story enough times she may get a fairy god-mother to pay her child's tuition. If only I had thrown out my moral compass and decided that the mortgage company could forgo my payments so that I could send my children to a private school. What a missed opportunity for me!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 3, 2013 4:23 am
I'm not sure the intent of repeating Ms. Lewis' situation and her decision to place her son in a private school. While she may not be able to currently juggle her financial situation, she is well educated and formally had a well paying job. Based on previous articles, she apparently thinks her son is "gifted" and was not satisfied with the minimalist, test prep core curriculum provided by the School District and most charter schools (e.g. Mastery, etc.) So, she found an option that will help place her son in line for Mastery - the same option taken by many parents of means in Phila. like the Nutters, Pedro Ramos, Wendell Prichett, etc. (Yes, all power people in Phila. Look at how many professors at the Univ. of PA Graduate School of Education have their children in a Philadelphia public school... ) Once again, a few students will have an unique opportunity while the vast majority of students do not. A parent of one child might have an option to select an expensive alternative. We need to focus on those who have no real alternatives. Relying on tuition, vouchers or lotteries is not a solution.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 3, 2013 5:19 am
My bad - should have been "Masterman" as the school of choice of the powerful and well connected.
Submitted by linda (not verified) on January 3, 2013 6:50 pm
I know that Nutter attended public school himself and sent his daughter to Masterman. I went to Friends with Wendell Pritchett but think he sent his girls to Sade Alexander/ Penn public school. I wonder where the other officials went and sent their kids. Does it solve anything by knowing? No. but it gives an interesting perspective. I went to public school form k-6 then with the strikes in the 70s and early 80s I was sent to private school while waiting to get into Masterman. My sister got in and guess what?.....she had the same textbooks that I had at Friends.....go figure.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 3, 2013 7:32 pm
Mayor Nutter did not attend public school. He attended Transiguation of Our Lord Catholic Elementary School and St. Joe's Prep for high school. He attended Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania where he got a degree in business. http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/what_is_business/stories/nutter.htm
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 3, 2013 7:52 pm
Also see this article: http://whartonmagazine.com/issues/winter-2012/why-its-always-sunny-in-ph...
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on January 4, 2013 10:34 pm
I stand corrected
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 4, 2013 7:44 am
Prichett's daughters went to a private, Quaker school until they got into Masterman. Where someone goes to school does matter. Networking is one benefit but so it the reputation of others. Masterman is an elite school which meets the needs of the socially, politically and economically powerful while having a few others attend. Many of the students are products of either private K-4 schools or the "top" elementary schools in the city. (Just look at how many go there from Meredith and Penn Alexander.) So, I think the original point was the members of the SRC and other power brokers in Phila. have no contact with schools in struggling neighborhoods but they sure are quick to close them down.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on January 4, 2013 8:42 am
And I think Mayor Nutter is a good example of the pros and cons of academia. I don't see much vision/leadership coming from him in the prospective closings of so many neighborhood institutions. He seems content to sit back and let the "rules and regulations" take the lead. The City should be very much involved in the planning of where the public institutions should be; If necessary a consolidation/sharing of the City's recreation facilities should be considered. The best "vision" that comes from our good followers seems to be to emulate NYC, though Philly is far too conservative at heart. We can "dot our i's and cross our t's" and "balance our books" at least... this we can do at Masterman.
Submitted by tom-104 on January 4, 2013 7:50 pm
In the Wharton Review interview linked above, Nutter says he see himself as a CEO. Managers do not make good political leaders. They are technocrats paying attention to spead sheets. A true political leader has vision and inspires the citizenry with that vision.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 7:06 pm
Ms. Cheng, I love this statement you made: "The City should be very much involved in the planning of where the public institutions should be." This is ultimately the concern of the city and the SDP, not the BCG. EGS
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 9:24 pm
You hit the nail on the head. They think that because schools in poor neighborhoods are struggling, it's okay to shutter them. They think it's okay to create instability for poor children, when there is already a lot of instability in many (but not all) poor neighborhoods.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 4, 2013 12:51 pm
What do these fantastic Quaker school have to offer that PSD does not? Very small class sizes, no PSSAs, curriculum tailored to the kids, teachers who are there for the kids (not the money), and an environment of peace. Maybe the Philly schools should look towards implementing more instructional strategies of the private schools. It's not a panacea, but it sure couldn't hurt.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 8:21 pm
One of my professors, a former public school teacher who sent her children to Penn Charter, said that Quaker Schools tend to pay pretty well because they want to attract good teachers. So it's not just the environment, but the pay is also sufficient.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on January 4, 2013 10:15 pm
I applied to be at a Quaker school but found the pay better at the SDP in that I did have any kids to send to the school for the tuition discount.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on January 4, 2013 10:42 pm
As a former FSS student, the class size forced me to speak up and do more since there was no place to hide in a room of just ten to 15 kids.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 4, 2013 4:15 pm
Pedro Ramos attended Hunter Elementary, Conwell Middle Magnet, and Central High School (242). His children attended J.R. Ludlow and John Moffett Elementary. The older child graduated from Masterman Middle School, Central HS (268) and is currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania, where both her parents are alums. . . The younger one attended Masterman Middle and High School and currently attends the Rhode Island School of Design. Finally, someone who walks the walk, even though he could easily afford private school.
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on January 4, 2013 6:52 pm
How is going to Central and Masterman "walking the walk?" He sent his children to the most prestigious, well connected schools in Philly.
Submitted by carpoolmom (not verified) on January 7, 2013 3:15 pm
You must have missed the part where his kids went to elementary school in North Philadelphia: Ludlow and John Moffett, the same school that was not good enough for Ms. Lewis' son. Have you ever been to North Philadelphia? It is the opposite of "prestigious" and "well connected". The Nutter kid, the Pritchett kids, and the Ramos kids are all double Ivy League legacies, (all of their respective parents have ivy league degrees) so it is no surprise that they would excel academically, regardless of where they go to school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 6, 2013 4:39 pm
Pretty sure at least one of his kids was at the Philadelphia School.
Submitted by carpoolmom (not verified) on January 7, 2013 3:57 pm
My kids carpooled with his --neither of his daughters went to TPS. They went from John Moffett in 4th grade to Masterman at 5th grade. "Pretty Sure" should not be the basis for posting wrong information.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 7, 2013 3:47 pm
Well la di da! Just waiting to whip that out, weren't you? Someone who knows him socially said his girls went to the Philadelphia School before Masterman. I had no reason to think they were wrong.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 7:55 pm
I highly recommend reading the article "Charter schools now big business nationwide" by Eleanor Chute of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. See the News and Notes post for Jan. 4 in the Notebook or go to the article here: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/charter-schools-now-b....
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on January 4, 2013 7:01 pm
Another great article about school reform: "The Bait and Switch of School Reform" by David Sirota, http://www.salon.com/2011/09/12/reformmoney/. This is a MUST READ! Ultimately, school reform is not about kids, but business interests.

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