Originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer
Daniel Nansi always dreamed that his daughter would go to school in America — until he landed in Philadelphia.
Originally from Benin, a French-speaking West African nation, Nansi moved to Philadelphia in 2017. This past year, Nansi’s wife and 13-year-old daughter Moïra joined him in West Philadelphia’s Mill Creek neighborhood. Before Nansi enrolled his daughter at the local public school, James Rhoads Elementary, he researched the school’s performance.
Nansi said his whole idea of American education came crashing down when he learned that Moïra’s government-assigned school is among the worst performing in Pennsylvania. According to standardized testing data, just 5.3% of its students were proficient in math and 17.6% were proficient in language arts during the 2020-21 school year. Overall, 68% of Philadelphia students who attended neighborhood, or catchment, schools graduated in 2021, well below the state’s nearly 87% graduation rate.
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