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POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 10:59 AM

This post isnt' exactly about raising kids in the city. It's about a guy who was a trusted source over the years who died suddenly yesterday. His name was Rob Stuart. He and his wife Sarah led the fight to improve access to Schuylkill River Park.

I run over those CSX tracks into Schuylkill Park several times a week. Until I wrote Rob's obituary yesterday, I didn't even realize that I had him to thank for that.

This morning, I picked up the paper and showed the obituary to my son, who is 4. I pointed to Rob's picture and said, "This is a story Mommy wrote about a man who did good things for the city. I hope you grow up to do good things where you live, too."

POSTED: Thursday, October 27, 2011, 11:22 AM

An acquaintance told me she loves her childrens' school, so I checked out the web site. I'm not going to identify the school because it's unfair and irrelevant to my reaction: It's yet another private school that will cost upwards of $24,000 yearly once I take into account after-school care and summer camps.

As I struggle to keep all options on the table in the hunt to find the next school for our 4-year-old, private schools like this one are on the list. So are Philadelphia and suburban public  schools. 

But there are so many expensive places that we simply can't consider them all. This particular school is kind of far from our house, and I don't know anyone from our neighborhoood with kids there, so I crossed it off the list without knowing anything more than what was on the web site.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 12:18 PM

I'm an unabashed fan of all the neighbors and parents who are jumping in to improve Philadelphia Schools. As a parent considering sending my child to a Philadelphia pubic school every day, I pray almost daily that these groups can make a difference.

One of the newest of those efforts is The Friends of Chester Arthur Education Foundation, who have rallied to improve the school, which is at 2000 Catherine St. On Wednesday, October 26, the group kicks of a new tutoring program at the school, and they're gettting some help from some influential friends - Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter.

The program gets under way at 2:30 p.m.

POSTED: Monday, October 24, 2011, 5:43 PM

Many of you probably already know about PhillySchoolSearch, the blog by Philadelphia parent Len Lipkin about finding a school for your child. But whether you are familiar with the blog or not, try to find time to hear Lipkin speak at 6 p.m. Thursday Oct. 27 at  Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 North Broad Street.

More information here. It costs $10, but I found the amount well worth it when I went to a talk by Lipkin several months ago. Although I already knew a lot about the school search, Lipkin's advice taught me a few new important things.

He urged those who attended to have "the talk" with their spouses about school. I thought I'd already done that, but I heeded Lipkin's advice, went home and told my husband we needed to talk about what we wanted in a school for our child. It turned out that my husband is a lot less interested in paying private-school tuition than I am. I had sort of assumed that if we weren't happy with our Philadelphia public school, we'd simply send our son to a private or parochial school in the city. My husband said we should also consider moving to a district where schools are better - and tuition is still zero.

POSTED: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 3:57 PM

Many parents are trying to remake their city schools, so much so that I'm starting to believe they are having real impact. The more I learn about local schools, the more I realize that many of them have a lot to offer, from violins to yoga.

But this morning, as we discussed school choices for our son, my husband asked if I had seen the "article in this morning's paper about that kid?" I had, and it caused me to ponder - for about the zillionth time - whether I'm crazy to consider sending my child to a Philadelphia school.

The story, by my Inquirer colleague Jeff Gammage, detailed one father's efforts to try to get Philadelphia School District officials to do something about bullies who were beating up his first-grade son.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 11:31 AM

With 70,000 empty seats, the Philadelphia School District is looking close many schools. The Pew Research Initiative takes a look at the likely impact of the closings and says any savings will be modest

Read the report here.

POSTED: Friday, October 14, 2011, 10:36 AM

Celebrity Chef Marc Vetri will be there. Will you? Bache-Martin Elementary holds its annual fall festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Eastern State Penitentiary Park, just behind the prison.

Vetri announces the winner of the festival baking contest at 1:15 p.m., but the event also features music and dance classes and general merrymaking.

In a recent post, I wrote about the need for public schools to market themselves. This festival is one way that Bache-Martin does that. Tell me about efforts at your school. I'd love to feature them here.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 1:06 PM

Every time our family walks somewhere, my son, 4, wants to play the “bus game.” He is the bus driver. Mommy and Daddy are the passengers, and we have a lot of rules to follow. If we don’t get off at the right stop, for example, the bus driver gets a little bossy.

So why do some kids like to play the same game over and over?

Marsha Gerdes, a early childhood development expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the answer depends on the child and his environment.

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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