For many families, navigating a mystifying and meandering path through rows and rows of corn stalks has become a favorite fall tradition. Often—especially for the more adventurous kids—getting lost in the corn maze is the best part.
When it comes to applying for school, navigating a labyrinth and getting lost and confused is not so fun. For Philadelphia parents, who have had to traverse a complex system for years, help is here thanks to Apply Philly Charter. This new tool provides a one-stop-shop for parents to apply to any participating Philadelphia charter school. Despite being a brand-new site, 73 of the city’s 108 charter campuses have joined Apply Philly Charter.
Having a convenient way to apply to charter schools will be a tremendous help to the thousands of parents seeking an alternative to trouble-plagued Philadelphia Public Schools. From “sick schools” with peeling lead paint, deteriorating asbestos, mold, and rodent infestations to schools that fail to educate students, children in Philadelphia deserve more.
Philadelphia charter schools are achieving better results for roughly half the funding per pupil. But, while the district schools have a single enrollment form, parents have had to apply to each charter school separately. Until now. With Apply Philly Charter, parents can submit one application to all the participating charter schools they’re interested in.
While the new process greatly simplifies applying to a charter school, it won’t help the thousands of students who are desperate for choice get into one.
One-third of Philadelphia students—approximately 70,000—currently attend public charter schools, but thousands more apply each year and are denied due to district-imposed enrollment caps. As a result, even Ivy League universities have higher acceptance rates than some Philadelphia charter schools. Moreover, the district has large charter school deserts where families have no nearby charter school option.
Philly parents who seek a private school alternative for their children face a similarly daunting task, as thousands of children are placed on tax credit scholarship waitlists each year due to state-mandated caps.
A recent PEW report detailed the challenges faced by low-income Philadelphians. Not surprisingly, access to a quality education was a significant problem. Higher income families can generally access better schools by choosing where to live or paying tuition. Families living in poverty lack those options. Charter schools and private school choice programs are lifelines that can help rescue children from the cycle of generational poverty. Furthermore, when parents have more choices, traditional public schools are forced to improve—which helps all children.
Corn mazes are fun because you know there is a way out. Tragically, for thousands of Philadelphia students, there is no escape. Apply Philly Charter is a great step forward, but these children need—and deserve—more. By expanding school choice options in Philadelphia, parents will be empowered to lead their children on a path to a better future.
As of September 28, 2018, the Apply Philly Charter website is open for business. Participating schools have agreed on a January 28, 2019 application deadline. For more information, including frequently asked questions, a list of participating schools, and informational videos, visit applyphillycharter.org.