About two years ago, a friend suggested I to to a meeting about how parents were working to improve Bache-Martin Elementary, which serves the Fairmount and Francisville neighborhoods.
I don't live within the Bache boundaries and knew nothing about the school but went anyway. I was pleasantly surprised. It turns out that my son has a pretty good chance of getting into Bache because they have extra space. The school also has relatively small class sizes and violin for kindergardeners.
Suddenly, public school seemed like a real option. Tomorrow, a group of West Philadelphia schools, including Henry C. Lea, Penn Alexander, and Samuel Powel, opens their doors to parents interested in kindergarden. I know, I know. You think district schools are a disaster - and some of them are. But unless you already have decided where you are sending your child for kindergarden, you owe it to your family to check it out.
Even if you don't think the school is for you, you will learn something about your neighborhood. You may even find, as I did at Bache, a group of like-minded parents who think that getting involved can make public school an option.
For a list of the West Philadelphia open houses, go here. Some of the open houses are listed as unconfirmed, but you can try calling the school to find out if you can come.
Who knows? You may just find a spot for your budding violinist.