Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, August 6, 2012, 12:17 PM

It happens, even to good kids with lots of friends: Some children don't get into the private kindergarten or grade school of their choice.

I always knew this could happen, but until some friends I knew experienced this kind of rejection, I didn't really understand that it could happen to any kid, not just to those who are struggling in school or exhibiting behavior problems.

With more children living in Center City, it seems inevitable that getting into private school will grow more competitive. At least we're not New York, where many parents start plotting a child's kindergarden destination long before pregnancy.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 4:55 PM

Charter schools are public schools. As such, they are supposed to be open to all. But a new draft report from the Philadelphia School District has found that some charters put "significant barriers" in front of those who try to attend.

Read the Philadelphia Public School Notebook story on the report here.

It cites these examples: 

POSTED: Thursday, July 12, 2012, 11:59 AM

Friends who have taken their children the redesigned Sister Cities Park on Logan Square say it's one of the best play spots in the city. They love the little pond, and the location in an area that lacks playgrounds.

So why not take the opportunity to check out the park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, July 14, when the Center City District hosts a celebration of wind and water there? Children can decorate kites, craft an oar and race mini-boats.

Here is the press release from the Center City District: 

POSTED: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 5:47 PM

Those of who worked with Sue Snyder weren't surprised that she was part of the team that won the Inquirer's Pulitzer Prize for reporting on violence in Philadelphia public schools. She works harder than almost anyone. In a business where being cranky is a common personality trait, Sue is always a pleasure. Her kind, straightforward manner undoubtedly helps her win sources.

For any parents out there worried that children must be high achievers from the moment they enter preschool, read Sue Snyder's story and calm down.

What follows is a copy of the graduation speech Sue gave not too long ago to the journalism school at her alma mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is proof that attitude, a strong work ethic and a sense of humor can overcome mediocre SAT scores and the occasional hangover.

POSTED: Sunday, May 6, 2012, 10:53 PM

All aboard! Saturday May 12 is Amtrak's National Train Day and if you, like me, have a child who thinks riding a train is more fun than just about anything else, you should make your way to 30th Street station to celebrate all things locomotive.

Lines can be long to tour the trains, so you may want to get there early. The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. and includes  live entertainment, interactive exhibits, model trains, tours of Amtrak, freight and commuter trains, and private railroad cars and other activities.

Celebrity chef Michele Richard will be there offering samples of chocolate mousse.

POSTED: Monday, April 30, 2012, 4:18 PM

In my last post, I asked whether it is fair or wise that we spend so much less on children in Philadelphia district schools than we do on kids in most other districts.

That prompted a commenter named Ken Byers to ask: "Property tax revenues don't rival those of Haddonfield because people who live in Haddonfield pay extremely high taxes. Mine are 13k a year. What do you pay?"

It's a great point, so let me rephrase my original question. Is funding schools via local property taxes smart? To paraphrase Brett Mandel, an expert on Philadelphia property taxes and a former candidate for city controller, that lets a zip code determine the quality of a child's education.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 6:10 PM

With so much talk about cuts in Philadelphia schools, it's easy to get the impression that the problem is overspending.

I have little doubt that a system with 70,000 empty seats can identify savings, but even so, it seems like we are ignoring a major difference between what most suburbs spend to educate children and what Philadelphia does.

Philadelphia schools spent $13,272 a year per child in the 2009-2010 school year. In Lower Merion, where many city parents move once their children reach school age, that number is $26,570.

POSTED: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 6:08 PM

There was lots of good advice on finding a school for your child at last night's panel discussion on choosing an elementary school. Ok, Ok, so I was one of the panelists, but I'm not talking about myself here.

My fellow panelists, Martha Benoff, a certified school psychologist, and Luise Moskowitz, who is on the Outreach Committee for the Home and School Association at Greenfield Elementary, were chock full of helpful tips, which I'll share here.

Benoff started out talking about a news story she had seen recently that tracked several New York families as they sought to get their children into an elite private school there. The families believed that the preschool their children attended would set the course for the rest of their lives, putting immense pressure on 4-year-olds to perform.

About this blog
In her 12 years at the Inquirer, Miriam Hill has written about everything from politics to gourmet chocolate (Like!) and anxious dogs (adorable trouble).

But only one topic has become a passion: the pleasures and challenges of raising a young child in the city.

Not too long after her son was born four years ago, she started hunting around for day care, which triggered her ongoing search for a good primary school. Public, private or charter? Stay in the city or move to the suburbs?

And then there are the more mundane questions, such as how many games can you play while sitting on a stoop?

Please join her in the conversation about raising children in Philadelphia and about making this city better for kids. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, but her only personal obsession is not football, but Bruce Springsteen. As he might have said, it’s hard to be a parent in the city.

You can also follow Miriam on Twitter here.

Miriam Hill
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