Are Families Fleeing Philadelphia and Its Schools?
There is no way to know how many parents have lost faith in the city’s ability to adequately fund education, and whether they outnumber those who like their kids’ schools and won’t bail out because of “yet another funding crisis,” as one father put it. Countless others can’t afford private schools or a move to the suburbs.
But even as officials were promising last week that schools will open on time, several real estate brokers, parents, and public school advocates said the latest money crisis could drive more families away.
The pledges made Thursday to find the $50 million needed to start classes Sept. 9 seemed depressingly inadequate, they said. And news of local and state officials haggling over a miserly budget sounded all too familiar.
Having endured district budget crises before, public school parent Kevin Peters isn’t panicking.
“We take it a year at a time,” said Peters, a fund-raiser and consultant for nonprofits whose son is starting 10th grade at Central High. “For us, just because the circus came back to town with yet another funding crisis, we have faith and hope that Central as well as the other schools that have strong functional leadership and teachers and a strong family and community base will be able to figure this out.”
The real concern, he said, should be for children in schools where that kind of support is lacking.
For what it’s worth, our son starts kindergarten at Greenfield School on Sept. 16. Yes, the same school that’s asking for $613 donations for each child. That audaciousness is actually one reason we’re not ready to flee yet: The school is doing its damndest to get ready for the year. And though I find the solicitation distasteful—both because public schools shouldn’t have to depend on quasi-private tuition, and because parents at other schools in town won’t be able to raise anywhere near that type of money privately—we’ll dig into our pockets and pay at least a good chunk of it. We’re not fleeing. But staying is going to be more of a challenge than we ever anticipated.