Pew Report: Options Are Growing, But Parents Want Still More

Publication: Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Author: Dale Mezzacappa


06/29/2010 - Those of us who have been following the education world in Philadelphia for any length of time know that it has changed drastically just in the past decade. Catholic schools are on the wane. Charter schools are on the rise. And the public school system itself has undergone huge upheavals -- a state takeover, the advent of private management in some low-performing schools, the creation of dozens of additional high schools under Paul Vallas.

All these changes have had one common result: parents have to pay more attention in a system that has become much more complicated, especially at the middle and high school level. Even if they do not plan to enroll their child in a Catholic or other private school, they can no longer simply assume that their child will be assigned to the public school nearest to their home.

With the explosive growth of charter schools, not to mention choice within the School District itself, all parents now have an option, even if they can't afford tuition. But parents can't just choose a charter school and enroll. They must enter a lottery, and the child may or may not get picked, especially at the more popular charters. So they need a Plan B and probably a Plan C.

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Parents are both heartened and daunted by this new responsibility, according to a report out this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts Philadelphia Research Initiative. The report polled 802 parents, half with children in District schools, a quarter from charters, and a quarter from the Catholic system.

Read the full story, Pew Report: Options Are Growing, But Parents Want Still More on the Philadelphia Public School Notebook's Web site.

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