We moved here last fall and took a rental in Lower Merion b/c of the steller school district. It was a very abrupt move with very little time to prepare or plan. We literally arrived the day before school started.
Our lease will be up this summer and we're trying to figure out where we want to be permanently. While we like our neighborhood, the housing prices are crazy when you consider what you get for the $$. We are naturally urban dwellers and would prefer to live in city (probably Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy area because we have two kids 8 and 3 who both need "yard time").
1. Spouse works in Old City. I work at home.
2. We intend to be settled until the 3 year old graduates high school or longer. So whatever we decide, we're in it for the long haul.
3. While we do alright financially, the cost of private schools is typically more than we can spare long term and if forced to choose, would put the $$ away for college instead.
So my questions are:
What is the normal course of an average public school kid in Philly -- Go to your neighborhood elementary, middle and high school? Are there specific neighborhoods where you can trust you're getting a solid start to finish education?
How hard is it to get into a magnet school? (the 8 year old gets good grades, but is not insanely smart and I hear getting a spot is difficult)
Are any of the non-magnet schools a reliable upper education?
I hear getting into a charter is hard as well and frankly I don't think I can handle the insanity of applying to many and being rejected by all. Besides that, it appears we've missed our opportunity to get in for next fall anyway.
I've dug through this forum, read blogs, etc. etc. and I keep coming back to the conclusion that we can choose to 1) Take a risk and maybe get a solid education thru the city schools assuming if our kids are smart enough and we do everything right in terms of residing in a decent elementary school district and applying on time to a magnet school; or 2)Play it safe in a less affluent suburb with a solid public school program.
If we "risk" it and buy a house in the city, should we be prepared to shell out the big bucks on private school, in case the public school doesn't work out? To rephrase the question, can an educated family navigate the public city school system and get a quality education?
For an outsider, the whole thing is so confusing and overwhelming.