Some of America’s Best Public Schools Are Right Here

So says a new study. Plus, CAPA in upheaval over controversial play.

A photo of Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania, one of the best places in America for public schools, according to a new report

Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania, one of the best places in America for public schools, according to a new report (photo courtesy of Radnor High School)

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Some of the Best Public Schools Are Right Here loves to put out lists and rankings based on its analysis of data. As far as I can tell, that’s all the Pittsburgh-based company formerly known as College Prowler (ewww!) does. And the latest ranking has some major praise for the Philadelphia suburbs.

Niche just released its 2024 ranking of the Places with the Best Public Schools in America. And some Philly-area towns ranked quite high. Devon, Berwyn and Chesterbrook all land in the top 10 thanks to their status in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, which sports Conestoga High School. And Conestoga High School is, per Niche, the second best public high school in all the Commonwealth. Radnor finds itself at number 14, getting an A-plus grade for its public schools, which include Radnor High School, the third best public high school in Pennsylvania, according to Niche.

And what does Niche say is the absolute best public school in Pennsylvania? That would be Masterman, right here in Philadelphia. Alas, Philadelphia doesn’t show up on Niche’s Places with the Best Public Schools in America list, because that particular list includes lots of other factors like, say, crime, for which Niche gives us a D, and, well, many of the other schools in the district.

Philly does, however, make the Top 100 in Niche’s rankings for Most Diverse Cities in America (number 14), Best Cities for Young Professionals in America (number 33), and Best Cities for Outdoor Activities in America (number 59).

All that to say, congrats to the towns that made the list for their schools. But it’s important to keep in mind that school rankings can be kind of fraught and that, as my colleague Sandy Smith argues here, the best school for your kids is probably the one they can walk to.

A CAPA Conundrum

Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, a.k.a. CAPA, is best known for spawning alumni like Questlove and Black Thought from the Roots, the men of Boyz II Men, R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan, and Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. But right now, people are talking about CAPA for a much less glamorous reason.

In February, students staged a production of the controversial Agatha Christie play And Then There Were None. Back in olden times, meaning the 1940s, the play was performed under the name Ten Little [N-word]s and, at times, Ten Little Indians. The setting of the play was originally [N-word] Island.

Some parents and students are hopping mad over what they said in a letter to the school was “racist, xenophobic, and violent content” and that nobody attempted to offer beforehand the historical context needed to present a production like this.

CAPA is holding two town-hall meetings on the matter next week. WHYY has all the details on this theatrical mess. The whole show is available on the CAPA theater department’s YouTube page.

Bridge Bedlam

A portion of I-95 North remains closed for an undetermined period of time as workers assess and try to repair damage caused to a railroad bridge when a passing truck clipped said bridge, which goes over I-95. Here’s the full PennDot explanation of what happened and what to expect in the coming days.

By the Numbers

$1 billion: Endowment goal announced by the president of Haverford College. The current endowment sits at around $643.2 million. Maybe she should buy a Powerball ticket, considering that the jackpot is now up to $1.09 billion. (It’s not the worst idea ever.)

$41 million: Potential tax revenue that recreational marijuana could bring to Pennsylvania in its first year, should our esteemed legislators ever decide to legalize it. As it stands now, we’ve all been going to New Jersey to get our recreational weed. True, bringing it back to Pennsylvania is technically illegal, but we’ve been technically breaking the law for decades by buying our wine and booze in New Jersey and Delaware. If only Pennsylvania could have a Total Wine. They have charcuterie, for God’s sake.

$350: What some Philly people are spending to have somebody else come up with a cool name for their baby. Note to all those expensive birthday venues that charge parents way too much money for bad food and a rushed two-hour party with some trampolines or things to climb on: You definitely want to get these cuckoo parents on your mailing list.

Local Talent

We told you about Best of Philly-winning drag queen extraordinaire Sapphira Cristál back in January, when she debuted on the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the first drag queen representing Philly to do so. It’s fair to say that Cristál has had quite the run on the show, dazzling RuPaul at every turn. And now, she’s in the final four. New episodes air on MTV on Fridays at 8 p.m. The season finale is set to air on April 19th. You go, Sapphira!

Reader Mail

I get a ton of reader mail, usually about an article that I published that day or within a couple of days prior to receipt of the mail. But once in a while, I get a message where the reader doesn’t mention a specific article. They just kind of go off. And sometimes the article in question is so old that I have no idea why the person is sending me this message. That’s what happened when I received the following from a reader late last week:

This is not end times action! This is the result on city officials a while back making a decision to release pigeon hunting fowl.

Notice the specific target is pigeons in spite of the variety of other creatures to choose from! I was born in Philadelphia and have never seen this pigeon slaughter until the command was given.

Please fight for our pigeons! They bring joy to the old guys sitting and feeding them. They bring joy to the children running through a flock In the park. And they bring joy and life and love of nature .

The loss of respect for life in ANY GRUOP leads to the eventual desensitization of respect for life. Expose to the public and confront the powers behind this…

Say what?

It took me a while, but then I remembered that I wrote this masterpiece over a year ago: “Three Philly Mag Writers, Three Disembodied Pigeons … Coincidence?”

Well, thanks for reading and for this entertaining message. Just for the record, I like pigeons! Seagulls at the Shore are another story. I say kill ’em all.

And From the Red-Scare Sports Desk …

Beneath a lowering sky, Alec Bohm’s single in the first drove in two runs for the Phils last night in their home game vs. the Reds, and Cristopher Sánchez was lookin’ good, working out of trouble in the second with a key strikeout. From there, it became a pitching duel, with the Reds’ Andrew Abbott getting his bearings and Sánchez striking out the side in the fifth. But he was yanked for Jeff Hoffman in the sixth with men on second and third, and Hoffman gave up two hits that scored the two runners and tied the game before he got out of the jam.

The seventh inning brought on Matt Strahm for us and Justin Wilson for them. He issued a walk to Bryson Stott, who promptly got caught stealing. Kyle Schwarber led off the eighth with his second hit of the day, this one off Brent Suter. Trea Turner followed with a single, Johan Rojas came in to run for Schwarbs, and Bryce Harper … well, he flew out. New pitcher time, though, and J.T. Realmuto at bat vs. Alexis Diaz. Oh shit, they picked off Rojas! Boy, did he hear it from the crowd.

J.T. struck out, anyway. In came the ever hair-raising Jose Alvarado for the ninth and got the job done. But the Phils didn’t, as Alec Bohm, Nick Castellanos and Bryson Stott all went down. Extra-inning time, with Connor Brogdon on the mound and Bubba Thompson on second. A passed ball on a walk took Thompson to third, and another walk loaded the bases before …

Oh, Phils. They had a flurry in the bottom of the 10th, but it wound up 6-3.

They face the Reds again tonight, first pitch at 6:40.

How About the Sixers?

They have a home game tonight against the Thunder, with a 7:30 start. Rumor has it Joel Embiid won’t be back quite yet.

The Flyers played.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.