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Solutions explored, none announced during Penn Alexander meeting

Posted on 22 January 2013

Editor’s Note: Reporters were barred from this meeting so that parents could feel free to speak their minds without fear that their names would be used. As a parent, I was able to attend the meeting, but honor that principle. No names – other than Superintendent William Hite – are used in the story. In another note, everyone has had a chance to vent about the line and those who participated in it. I, like many of you, know many people who were in the line and they are good, hard-working people who want their kids to go to the best school possible. So as of now, any comments that are of a personal nature or do not further the search for a solution will be deleted.

William Hite

Superintendent William Hite speaks to parents at the Penn Alexander School on Tuesday.

Superintendent William Hite told a group of about 125 parents on Tuesday that the School District of Philadelphia would explore several options to address the kindergarten registration crisis at the Penn Alexander School. But he offered no immediate solution and did not take the proposed lottery off the table.

The options, he said, could include a lottery, but that the best long-term solution is to find out whether it’s “possible to serve every student in the catchment area,” a statement that drew applause from many parents present.

Hite seemed willing to rescind the lottery announced Friday if an equitable solution could be found.

He announced in a letter to parents on Friday that Penn Alexander would switch from a first-come, first-served process to a lottery to be held sometime in April. That announcement angered many parents who began standing in line to register Friday morning, four days before registration.

“Quite frankly I saw a process that from my perspective was not equitable,” said Hite, who told parents that he was only alerted to what might happen at the school during a meeting on Thursday evening.

Hite told parents that, while he understood that the line has become a protocol for registering at Penn Alexander, that it is unofficial.

“From my perspective the process begins when registration begins,” he said. “(That) is not the official start of the process to register.”

Several parents from Friday’s line requested that the district honor the list that circulated through the line indicating when each person began to line up.

“We got in that line because the school district steadfastly stood behind the first-come, first-served policy,” said one parent. “The line is the de facto school policy.”

That parent like many others who testified said they felt a mix of embarrassment, shame and chagrin to be forced to stand in the line, but that added that district was being disingenuous to change the policy with such late notice.

“I stood in that line not because I thought it was right, but because I thought it was what I had to do for my child,” one single mom said.

But another single mom testified that she couldn’t get off work to be in the line. Still another parent said that she refused to stand in the line.

One alternative to the lottery that gained traction during the meeting was to roll back kindergarten enrollment caps at the school, which are currently set at 18. One parent suggested raising them to 25 as a way to accommodate most, if not all, the students who want to register.

That solution raises questions about how those children will be accommodated in subsequent grades, where enrollment has also been capped. Caps in other grades is what has made kindergarten admission so coveted. Once a student gets into kindergarten, he or she is guaranteed a spot in the other grades.

One parent of a child who attends Penn Alexander middle school grades asked that those grades not be targeted in the quest for more space. The middle school grades, which have smaller classes than lower grades because students often leave in fifth grade for magnet schools, have been eyed before as a way to create additional classroom space.

“I beg you not to remove the middle school as you consider these plans,” she said.

It became clear during the meeting that more data should be collected and released that details the number of prospective kindergartners who live the catchment.

“We believe that decision are being made with the absence of data,” said one parent.

Here are some more outcomes of the meeting:

• The district asked for members of the community to volunteer to be on an advisory committee that would be part of the decisionmaking process. Several people lined up after the meeting to sign up.

• A meeting between district officials and that advisory committee will likely take place in the next week.

• No decision was made today to rescind the lottery.

• Some parents requested that Alexander Wilson School, which could be an alternative for those who are not admitted to Penn Alexander, not be closed.

• A call for more transparency between parents, the community, school officials and the school district.

70 Comments For This Post

  1. Andy L. Says:

    For those who didn’t receive the email to the Spruce Hill email list, SHCA issued the following statement to Superindendent Hite this morning, requesting that the community be included in short-term and long-term solutions:

    Dear Superintendent Hite:

    The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) was heavily involved in the founding of the Penn Alexander School (PAS), which has since become not only an exemplary public school, but also a powerful stimulus for growth in our community. As reflected in a unanimous resolution adopted by the SHCA Board of Directors on June 14, 2011, our long-standing and continuing position is that all children living in its catchment should be able to attend the Penn Alexander School. We do however recognize that there may be constraints that need to be overcome to resolve the enrollment crunch, and both long- and short-term solutions are needed. We have, for several years, been attempting to be a collaborative partner to effect meaningful change. We and other community members have sought to be part of the discussion on how the enrollment problem can be resolved without jeopardizing the progress we have made as a revitalized community.

    As you know, on January 18th at approximately 6pm and with no business hours remaining before kindergarten registration was to take place beginning January 22 at 9am, more than 70 community families presenting for registration were suddenly informed that the registration process at Penn Alexander would no longer be on a first-come, first-served basis, and instead would be conducted via lottery. We are extremely disappointed by the manner in which this sudden and last minute change in enrollment policy was undertaken. It is truly shocking that so drastic a policy change was implemented abruptly with apparently no parental or community involvement.

    While community involvement is important for every school, it is essential for a neighborhood school that was developed and intends to function as a community partnership. The community must be involved in discussions about solutions to the PAS enrollment problem. We as a board will be reaching out to all the stakeholders including PAS administration, the School Reform Commission, the PSD and the University of Pennsylvania, to continue to pursue mechanisms for an ongoing dialogue. This is an urgent and critical matter for our entire community, and we urge you to collaborate with the community in seeking a resolution.

  2. cg Says:

    How does someone become a part of this advisory committee? How are the members being chosen?

  3. Liam Says:

    Maybe PAS should be cut back to a K-5 school and a new regional middle school established covering several of the elementary schools in the area. Not a short term solution, but things need to be reorganized if the PAS is this crowded.

  4. Jo Says:

    Why is Penn the only university with official partnership of a Philly public school? We have so many great colleges and universities in this region, it seems ridiculous that resources are not used more widely.

  5. Steve J Says:

    I didn’t realize SHCA had such a large role in the founding of the school – tell us more about the role SHCA played.

  6. mta Says:

    cg: Parents in attendance at today’s meeting signed up to be included in communications regarding the next meeting (as reported in the article above). If you are interested in the process but could not attend today’s meeting you should get in touch with the Chief of Communications for the PSD, Fernando Gallard: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/c/communications2/

  7. Leroy Says:

    Shca played an integral role in the founding of the school. Indeed, shca provided penn with much of the courage needed to do it. Today’s challenge is to leverage the demand for good neighborhood schhools to create additional options like Penn Alexander. They did it already with a paltry $700,000 year contribution from Penn……..imagine what another two or three million from CHOP, Drexel, etc. could do. Let’s think big here and demand more!

  8. Anne Says:

    I believe that Drexel is getting involved with Powell, looking to replicate PAS’s success.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Anne, Drexel is looking to get involved with Powel but without the money. PAS without the money…is what?

    And let’s not forget our history here, the other three community associations were also involved in the creation of PAS but were lobbying for a neighborhood-wide lottery.

  10. Rachel Says:

    I just heard from a friend who just registered her son at Meredith that Meredith kindergarten filled up on the first day (yesterday) for the first time ever and that there is already a waiting list. I am sure the parents in Meredith’s catchment will be watching developments at PAS with interest.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Fantastic, the school district just sold Meredith’s annex building for $1.2 million so it could be converted into residential units:

    http://thenotebook.org/blog/125463/four-hour-meeting-src-gets-earful-school-closings

  12. LM Says:

    Before you call for its closure, please know that the middle school is one of the best things about PAS (the best, in my opinion).

  13. GladIhavenokids Says:

    I haven’t heard U Penn mentioned much in any of these discussions yet it’s my understanding that their funding is what makes Penn-Alexander so desirable. So there should be more pressure on Penn to work with other schools. Hey maybe USP can take over Alexander Wilson school!

  14. SK Says:

    I want to concur with the comment LM made regarding the discussion of the possible closure of the PAS middle school. It is wonderful-with a committed, inspiring teaching staff. To close it to make more room for the lower school is shortsighted. Time does indeed fly by.

  15. Laura Says:

    Agreed the middle school program is the best part of the school. Duking it out while pretending you are looking out for less priveledged residents of this catchment is malarkey. It’s all about the real estate, look at the realtors who are co-captains and chairs. there is not actual solution taken seriously that addresses the fact that people come here and have kids because it’s better than any private school, expect attendance for their children as part and parcel, and the Spruce Hill Association is wrapped up in AGREE or FITEPhilly or whatever bologna name they have this year. The only solution that actually addresses the problem of math and finite space and also addresses its increasing exclusivity is expanding the program to include another neighborhood school, and expanding people’s own idea of what their neighborhood is, because this pocket is surely a bubble that does not represent the economic diversity it once did.

  16. excellent schools for all children Says:

    Perhaps PCAPS can be a resource for and could recieve support from those passonate about this issue. Check them out at wearepcaps.org

  17. Billy Says:

    Ugh, this whole thing is reaching comic levels of absurdity. People want this unrealistic dream scenario where they can put their kids in an amazing public school subsidized by a private institution, without having to pay the price or risk their child not getting in. Yeah, that would be great, except its not realistic.

    PAS is in a bad limbo between private and public, and its going to fall into one category or another, and no one is going to like it.

  18. mta Says:

    I also agree that we should be concerned about the middle school remaining a vital part of PAS and the neighborhood it serves. Surely, there are other ways to make room for expansion of the lower grades without targeting the middle school. Public schools across the country have to deal with expansion and contraction with cycles of population growth and reductions – I had classes in temporary trailers when I was in elementary school (though I’m not suggesting that is a good long term solution, obviously). And, just to address Laura’s comment: PAS is an exemplary public school, but I doubt anyone is under the illusion that it is ‘better than any private school’. Families looking to stay in the city and give their children a good public education have limited options. Why wouldn’t people expect to attend their neighborhood PUBLIC school as part and parcel to living in and contributing to their neighborhood?

  19. Jm Says:

    When PAS was built, the middle school was to be housed in the old UC new school, which is now occupied by PIC. The catchments were drawn with this capacity in mind. Since the middle school was always intended to be in a different building, why would moving it be a bad thing?

  20. SK Says:

    In response to JM’s post -I too have wondered why that building was used for PIC expansion. As far as I can tell this PIC expansion happened within the last year or so when the PAS over capacity issue was coming to a head. It seemed an ideal place for the PAS middle school to be moved to. Moving across the path differs greatly from ‘closing the middle school’.

  21. GoldenMonkey Says:

    The PIC expansion started roughly five years ago.

  22. Parent Says:

    These two comments were posted in the Philadelphia School Notebook. As a parent with children who will be attending school in West Philadelphia and who is not particularly connected, I’m concerned about transparency. Does anyone else feel the same way?

    “Hite cited equity as a major reason for ending the line and moving to a lottery. I respect that. However, I find the way the PSD and some parents have acted since that decision to be very inequitable. For example, I found out last night that earlier yesterday, PSD officials held a closed-door meeting with a group of parents comprised mostly of those who were in “the line.” i’ve heard that they discussed what to do about the people jilted by the last minute switch, and also about the future of Penn Alexander. Furthermore, the minutes from that meeting are being circulated among a private email list of connected community members. Shouldn’t the entire community be kept in the loop regarding what happens with our neighborhood school? Is it even legal to bar taxpayers from attending meetings with school officials? Isn’t that what sunshine laws are for?

    reply

    Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/30/2013 – 15:07.

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of an uproar about this. I love my neighborhood and my neighbors, and I appreciate that the PSD is trying to address the PAS situation, but it is flat out self-serving of parents and inappropriate for the school district to have a hush-hush closed door meeting during which policy decisions about the future of admissions at PAS is discussed.

    The only reason I found out is because I know someone whose husband is friends with someone ‘in the know’ about the fact that the meeting was taking place. That is disturbing.

    I did not stand on line this year. I do have two young children who will go to public school in the future. I don’t feel entitled to send my children to PAS. I don’t feel like Lea is too far away to be a neighborhood school. I do feel like all of my children should be able to go to the same school. I’d like to be able to talk about why. To whom should I talk? I feel strongly about sibling preference. I wish I knew what’s going on and why it’s a secret.”

  23. Let the Sun Shine Says:

    Parent, thanks for that post. I too find it extremely hypocritical that these secret meetings are taking place with a select group. Our entire neighborhood has a stake in what happens at PAS. There should be transparency.

  24. Andy L. Says:

    RE: Parent. See the bullet points at the end of the article up top. One of the outcomes of the Hite meeting was a promise from the district to follow-up further with parents directly impacted regarding the immediate 2013 enrollment issues. That follow-up with those parents took place at the Spruce Hill Community Association office yesterday, focused on that immediate 2013 issue, though no decisions were made or announced by the district. This isn’t meant to be the end of the process. A representative from SHCA Education Committee at that meeting underscored to the district rep Spruce Hill’s position: that the wider community needs to be brought into the planning process for short-term and long-term solutions since this impacts the wider community. Similar statement from SHCA is at the top of this comment thread. More to come. (Hope that helps clarify a little.)

  25. anon Says:

    I don’t understand the insistence on sibling preference and the difficulty of doing multiple drop-offs. if you have more than one child (unless you only have twins), it’s very likely that you’ve been doing multiple drop-offs with daycare, preschool, elementary school. Why would it be more difficult at two different elementary schools? There are currently families that are doing two drop-offs because they weren’t able to register their second child for PAS in past years. Where was the insistence for sibling preference for those families then?

  26. Sunny Says:

    Andy, thanks for your point of view. However, look closer at the bullet points and you’ll see that there is nothing about the proposed advisory committee dealing with “immediate 2013 enrollment issues.” Rather, this committee is to represent the diversity of our neighborhood and be part of “the decision making process” surrounding enrollment at PAS. 

    I was at the first meeting with Hite on the 22nd. My takeaway from that meeting is that the PSD intends to have one PAS conversation that includes addressing the immediate 2013 issues AS WELL AS a longer term solution. If other community members share my interpretation it’s easy to understand why they are concerned that meetings are being conducted on the down low with a select group of parents. 

    I completely agree that helping the kids entering kindergarten next fall should be the first priority of our discussions with the PSD. However, limiting the voices participating in those discussions only perpetuates the inequity of “the line.”Going forward I hope that discussions about PAS will be better publicized and more inclusive. 

  27. Parent Says:

    Dear Anonymous, reasonable people can disagree about sibling preference and still agree that whatever discussion is taking place should be transparent and inclusive. I am sure that if we were to talk face to face we could have an amicable discussion on the subject.

    Let’s not have ad hominem attacks, OK? I’m relatively new to the neighborhood and haven’t had time to insist on anything, sibling preference or otherwise. You don’t know anything about my family (you also didn’t read my note carefully or you would have seen that I didn’t mention multiple drop-offs as being difficult) so why attack my personal motives?

    Andy L., thank you–that does help. What I heard was that an outcome of the most recent meeting would be to begin to considering policy that might have future implications. I would find it very useful if there were another article like this one that described what happened and underscored that this is not a representative decision making or even advocacy body for anyone beyond the unfortunate people who are directly, immediately impacted for 2013 entry to PAS. Mystery breeds concern.

  28. Sunny Says:

    @anon,

    Daycare centers and preschools have flexible drop off / pickup times. Schools have hard start and stop times. It’s impossible for one person to be at two different schools at that same hard stop / start time. Make sense?

  29. anon Says:

    @Parent – No one was attacking you. My question was not a response to your question about the follow-up meeting between PSD and some parents. In the comment that you quoted and in previous articles about PAS and registration for 2013 (not only on WestPhillyLocal), there has been an insistence on sibling preference. I’m trying to understand why it’s so important this year with a lottery but not in previous years when registration was first come, first served. There are families now that must do two drop offs/pick-ups at two different elementary schools right now. I guess with the first come, first served policy, that you could guarantee that your 2nd child would be at the same school by making sure you got in line early enough for registration. But with a lottery, that is left to chance.

  30. Parent Says:

    Fair enough.

    I agree that sibling preference was just as important in previous years as it is now. My reason for caring about sibling preference now is that I was never aware of an organized discussion about it and related matters before. I never felt like there was a choice or I had a voice. Now that there is I would like to be part of it.

    BTW, if I did have a child who needed entrance is 2013 then I would have been out of luck. I would have been at work because I wouldn’t have been smart enough to consider the possibility of a Friday morning line. Lottery or line, it’s still a matter of chance. The lottery seems to me to be more equitable.

  31. Sunny Says:

    A comment over at The Notebook says that all one needs to do to get on the email list is send an email request. That info is way down the list of comments here:

    http://thenotebook.org/blog/135560/urban-education’s-breadline-problem#comments

  32. vlm Says:

    Anyone interested can sign on to a googlegroup called: Penn Alexander Neighborhood Info.

    If you don’t know how to find or sign on to a googlegroup, instructions are here:
    http://support.google.com/groups/answer/1067205?hl=en

  33. Lois Says:

    Thanks @VLM But, I’m having trouble figuring out the Google Group. I only see one message about an editorial from last week. How can I read the older messages? I really want to read the minutes from the follow-up meeting with the SDP (I couldn’t take off from work to attend).

    Can anyone help this tech-challenged person? Lol

  34. LW Says:

    Maybe Mike/West Philly Local could make some inquiries here, and make a separate post to the front page explaining how to find and join this group.

  35. Editor Says:

    Here is a link to the group:
    https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/pas-neighborhood-info

    It is called “Penn Alexander Neighborhood Info”

    There are only a couple of posts. I didn’t see any minutes there.

  36. Lois Says:

    Thanks for trying Editor. I’m still confused. Oh well.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    From the Notebook (where they are trying to figure this out as well):

    “@Anonymous, you won’t find the minutes no matter how hard you look.

    This new Google group was started by the woman who created the original email
    list as a way to make “outsiders” feel like they are part of the PAS
    conversation without actually including them in the conversation.

    The truth is that the original email list is comprised mostly of those who
    lined up on the sidewalk on Friday and that’s the way they want to keep it.
    They have even scheduled another meeting with the PSD where they plan to push
    their agenda. But you won’t find out about that meeting until it’s over. And
    you won’t read the minutes unless you were lucky enough to be included in the
    original email list.

    How’s that for fair and inclusive?”

  38. H Says:

    Bad look, PAS line parents (referring to what was revealed in the post above).

    I understand that everyone just wants what’s best for their kids, but I find this so distasteful that I hope the school district doesn’t concede one point to this exclusive little clique.

  39. Parent Says:

    That’s what I figured from the very beginning. A ploy to keep people happy and stop them from griping on the public web (although I’m only assuming that H is correct).

    The shame of it is that anything that comes out of these meetings won’t hold much weight. They aren’t representative of anybody but themselves, or part of themselves. If even a modest attempt had been made at transparency perhaps this group and some others could have represented the community as a whole. Alternatively, SHCA could have sponsored an open, neutral forum.

    It is distasteful, and it didn’t have to be. I know that the people who were waiting on line are good people. But decisions they made in moving forward were mistakes. Panic is only a partial excuse.

  40. anonymous Says:

    H: hoping that the PSD doesn’t concede ‘one point’ would mean hoping that the PSD will not encourage PENN to increase enrollment to serve everyone in the catchment who registers for a spot in Kindergarten for 2013/2014. Parents from the line and parents who couldn’t get in the line seem united in asking for inclusivity – not exclusivity – meaning, they are willing to give up the small class sizes (enrollment caps are part of the PENN agreement) to solve this years problem.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    “PENN to increase enrollment to serve everyone in the catchment who registers for a spot in Kindergarten for 2013/2014″.

    Oh honey, that ship has long sailed.

  42. parent Says:

    I think H was being hyperbolic and talking about an immediate reaction. I think this issue goes way beyond what Penn is or is not willing to do about enrollment and class size caps (what Penn is willing to pay is another matter). Parents who weren’t on the line have a stake in this as well. That a small group–albeit a group that will be effected soonest–is inclusive isn’t saying much. There are years of students yet to come.

    Is this conversation going to take place every year? Or is what happens to ‘your’ group going to live on permanently because of inertia? PAS will never again get this much attention from the school district.

  43. Parent Says:

    By “small group” I mean that I don’t know anybody who wasn’t on the line that was involved in these conversations at any level. Maybe dozens of them have been–the ‘connected ones’–who can say? In any case, saying that everyone in the catchment should get in is like saying my garden should be watered–uh huh. Surely that’s not the only thing you are going to suggest. What’s the back up plan for meeting number 3?

  44. H Says:

    “H: hoping that the PSD doesn’t concede ‘one point’ would mean hoping that the PSD will not encourage PENN to increase enrollment to serve everyone in the catchment who registers for a spot in Kindergarten for 2013/2014.”

    Well that’s great to ask for that, if you can get it (although Penn isn’t obligated to agree. Nobody’s entitled to this). But why shut the other parents out? The ridiculous 4-day-early line got shut down. It’s over. If one of your main goals is indeed to get Penn to increase enrollment, you’re better off letting other hopeful parents into this process. From an outsider’s perspective, the level of exclusivity being implied here has gotten farcical.

  45. Anun Says:

    A post just appeared on the “non line-parent” Google Group. It claims to reveal info from an SDP follow-up meeting. For example

    - The SDP “may consider changing the deadline” for the lottery
    - The SDP plans for a “formal evaluation of the capacity of PAS using architectural drawings and a walk-through”

    Interesting. Check out the entire post here:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/pas-neighborhood-info

  46. Line parent Says:

    H – I am curious: why do you think it is so unreasonable for any of us to expect that our children be admitted to their neighborhood school? Why are we not entitled? This is not a magnet school or a special admission school. It is a neighborhood school with a defined geographic catchment. No suburban parent would be criticized for buying a home in a good school district or for expecting their kids to go to that school. Because we have chosen to live in the city, we have to agree to accept less? Because we are not in a catchment where the SD is planning to close the school, we should just be grateful? Do we deserve to be criticized and called names for expecting what parents all over the country take for granted? Why is a group fighting to have all kids in the catchment admitted to the neighborhood school whether their parents were in line or not an “exclusive little clique?” Why would you hope that they are unsuccessful?

  47. Anonymous Says:

    Is there no “line parent” with professional Public Relations or Crisis Management experience? Who can advise on how not to say things like, “Why are we not ENTITLED?” From the media appearances, I have been wondering but this confirms it. Guys, use your resources, there’s got to be a neighbor who can do a training or workshop!

  48. Line parent Says:

    Anonymous, H said that no one was entitled to go to their neighborhood school. Why not? We read the maps and the catchment boundaries. We pay our taxes. The PAS website states:

    “The school provides a rich academic program FOR THE CHILDREN OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD with a curriculum that is based on best research evidence about successful teaching and learning strategies for children of diverse strengths, backgrounds, and learning needs.

    It is a COMMUNITY SCHOOL that DRAWS UPON, and CONTRIBUTES TO, the vitality of the NEIGHBORHOOD through an innovative COMMUNITY-FOCUSED curriculum, and is a vibrant center for educational, recreational, cultural, and social programs for adults and children in the COMMUNITY.”

    And, no, we are not PR professionals. We are just parents trying to do the best we can.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    An address in a catchment only gives you the right to register at your catchment school which you have already done. You do not have a right to enroll at your catchment school in particular. You have a right to enroll at a Philadelphia district school. You do not have any right to kindergarten at all. If the lawyers in the line would spend even five minutes researching Pennsylvania and Philadelphia education law, you would know this already.

  50. Anonymous Says:

    From The Notebook:

    “I just got an email from Fernando Gallard. Tomorrow’s meeting (Feb 7th) is open to the public and will take place at 9:30 am in the Penn Alexander cafeteria.”

  51. Line parent Says:

    You have answered my questions. City parents have no right to expect the things that suburban parents take for granted. If we want to live in a system that has rules and abides by them we should move. If we want to be treated with respect we should move. I guess you will be cheering as the moving vans roll out.

  52. Kofu Says:

    Line parent: You moved into a situation that was set up for failure fourteen years ago. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  53. Anonymous Says:

    No, the rules in the Philadelphia suburbs are pretty much the same with respect to the right to register and the right to enroll. If you’re asking for a right no one else in the state currently has, you shouldn’t be shocked that others question whether you should be granted it. And I’m not cheering anything.

  54. Anon Says:

    Perhaps I can put many of you out of your misery by pointing out that PAS is nothing special as schools go. Others have mentioned this but it seems to have been lost in fight about principles. It may be better than the neighboring schools but that does not say much. It is obsessed with the PSSAs, to the point where little else is taught for several months (and you thought those scores came naturally). It has good teachers, but also poor ones and most are rather average. It is very much a School District of Philadelphia school, with all of the limited resources, academic obsessions, and lack of a strong infrastructure to support students. The math program is poor, and the writing is only really taught seriously in 5th grade to make sure the PSSA scores are high. It is not a bad school, and there are a lot of extras that are fun for the kids. Penn sends quite a few student teachers that can help out in the classrooms, and has other student-led activities that the PAS kids enjoy. The building is new and clean, and there is a small patch of grass the kids can run on outside. But please stop this silly fighting about a school that really isn’t worth all the fuss. We are not talking Eaton here. Perhaps the lucky ones are really those whose kids don’t get in after all.

  55. Anglophile Pedant Says:

    Eton, please.

  56. Withnail & I Says:

    Marwood: What’s all this going off in private business? Why did you tell him I went to Eton?
    Withnail: Because it wouldn’t have helped if I hadn’t.
    Marwood: What do you mean by that?
    Withnail [Showing him the key to the cottage.]: Free to those that can afford it. Very expensive to those that can’t.

  57. Charles Says:

    New criterion for admission to PAS: Parents’ ability to quote “Withnail & I”. That or proffering a Camberwell Carrot.

  58. Terrilyn Says:

    Just left the meeting with Karen Lynch of the school district at PAS. There was someone who appeared to be taking minutes, and I hope they will circulate broadly. But there are two key pieces of information that need broad circulation regarding upcoming deadlines. (Hoping West Philly Local will pick up as a main story??)

    Feb 15 – Deadline for PAS kindergaten-eligible parents to submit Early Transfer request to PSD
    Feb 18 Close of Business – Deadline for registration for PAS kindergarten. This date has been moved up from the previous April 1 deadline

    Karen Lynch said the lottery will be conducted shortly after the 18th, and there are currently 82 applications including the Head Start/early intervention children.

  59. LW Says:

    Yes, these need broad circulation.

    If WPL can make a new post on the front page, then I can circulate the link by email.

  60. admin Says:

    We’re working on it. Stay tuned.

  61. Also at the meeting Says:

    I thought she said Feb 11th as the PAS registration deadline.

  62. Terrilyn Says:

    That is correct. Sorry I was looking at my calendar incorrectly. It’s next Monday, Feb 11th.

  63. LW Says:

    It’s next Monday, Feb 11th.

    Basically, 2 days notice? That’s crazy.

  64. Editor Says:

    New story:
    http://www.westphillylocal.com/2013/02/07/lottery-for-penn-alexander-kindergarten-spots-will-go-ahead-later-this-month/

  65. Also at the meeting Says:

    Can I just say that the perceptions of PAS parents on this blog are so bizarre?

    “Is there no “line parent” with professional Public Relations or Crisis Management experience? Who can advise on how not to say things like, “Why are we not ENTITLED?” From the media appearances, I have been wondering but this confirms it. Guys, use your resources, there’s got to be a neighbor who can do a training or workshop!”

    Um, yeah, we are all just one workshop away from being golden tongued PR gods. Just give us one workshop, and we will have total discipline and none of us will ever say anything that anyone could take the wrong way ever again in public. Because we’re pretty amazing already, you see, and with one workshop we’ll be perfect! And we all march in lockstep of course, that goes without saying. If someone puts on a workshop, 100% of us will attend, and 100% of us will implement the advice to the letter. We basically share a hive mind.

    This is reality people, not the SyFy channel, and we’re not quite that amazing. Pu a bunch of us in a room for an important announcement, and two hours later one of us says “She said Feb 11th” and the other says “She said Feb 18th”. D’oh! I guess it’s entertaining to some of you to imagine that there’s a sinister group of near mythical creatures living among you, plotting to control your future as you stand by helplessly, but the reality is we’re just normal human beings and Karen Lynch is the one calling the shots here. She said at the meeting today that she and Hite read their email and take it very seriously. If you have a point of view that you feel is not being represented, you don’t need to penetrate the inner workings of the hive mind to have influence, you can just email it to her. It’s that simple.

  66. Line Parent Says:

    “Just left the meeting with Karen Lynch of the school district at PAS. There was someone who appeared to be taking minutes, and I hope they will circulate broadly.”

    You were there. Why be critical of others for not posting the minutes and circulating widely – do it yourself.

  67. Terrilyn Says:

    I was in part of the room where it was impossible to hear most of the parent’s comments who were sitting closest to Karen Lynch – any minutes I could have provided would have been incomplete. And I wasn’t being critical in my comment just genuinely stating I hoped they would be broadly circulated, and it appears from the West Philly Local story they were.

  68. anonymous Says:

    Regarding ‘ENTITLED’: the definition is simply to give someone the legal right or a just claim to receive or do something. Here’s an excerpt from the PSD website, from Policy 206, Assignment within the District:
    The Board (School Board) shall determine annually the school attendance areas of the School District and shall expect each student within areas to attend his/her assigned school so designated except for approved transfers for special purposes…

    So, it’s at least an expectation from the School Board. Not unreasonable to have that expectation as a parent…a ‘just claim’ maybe?

  69. Gonzalo Gutierrrez Says:

    So he basically said that they got a bunch of ideas but are not really ready to implement any of them, basically making that entire reunion worthless, because noone got valubale information out of it.

    http://www.ag-abogados.net

  70. Costa Rica All Inclusive Says:

    I think that teling the people that everything is going to be good when in reality they don’t even know what they are going to implement is a waste of time and very disrespectful towards the people, because not only they are making them loose their time but they are also giving them false promises.

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