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The kindergarten queue

January 25, 2011

We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry after this ABC6 story about parents braving frigid temps to get their kids into Penn Alexander’s kindergarten, which is capped at 50 students. We’re happy that such a school exists (full disclosure: we have a child there) and that parents care so much about their child’s education, but we’re sad that they are so scared of the alternatives that they feel they have to sleep outside on the coldest night of the year to get in.

This kind of stand-in-line, first-come-first-serve enrollment system obviously isn’t sustainable. Penn Alexander, which prides itself on small classes, is filling up quick in the lower grades as parents move to the neighborhood (some before they even have children) looking for the Holy Grail of a nice urban neighborhood and a good public school.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Kim Woodbridge Says:

    It gets worse every year – when I did the K registration, I got there at 8am and was fine.

    The real solution is to make K mandatory in PA – then all kids get a spot. I found out though that legally you don’t have to send your kid to school until they are 8 in this state.

  2. Mike Lyons Says:

    Other states are like that too and there are more applicants than spots at good schools. This is turning into an inhumane and very unfair way of handing out the spots. What about single moms? Or people who can’t afford really good sleeping bags. They’re left out, as it were, in the cold.

  3. Lynn Major Says:

    I’m the parent who was interviewed by Nicole Contosta for the front-page article in this week’s UC Review on this topic.

    http://ucreview.com/west-philly-parents-face-hypothermia-for-placement-in-the-penn-alexander-sc-p2563-1.htm

    I was all fired up about the situation, and must have been speaking way too fast, resulting in a few factual errors in the article.

    So, to set the record straight – for those in this audience who are interested in getting the real scoop – in order of appearance:

    1. No, Rob & I do not have an older child; we have twins who are entering (or should I say planning to enter) kindergarten.

    2. When Rob got to PAS at 2:ish a.m., he was #34 (thirty-four) in line, not #4; the text message we got at 1:30 a.m. read: There are 20 people in line.

    3. Not only the current 1st grade, but also the 2nd grade is filled far beyond “capacity” – with up to 33 (yes: thirty-three) students in each classroom.

    Beth (Elizabeth) Menasion, who was also quoted in the article, has added her response to the article on the West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools’ site, emphasizing that the Coalition has indeed been a group effort from the start… there are many people who should be given credit for their hard work.

    That’s the real deal! ~ Lynn








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