We have some interesting thoughts for you to ponder this Mother's Day. It is not as lovely as flowers and not as flowery as we'd like it to be. But the truth is sometimes unpleasant and in this case is worth discussing this Mother's Day. Mothers are fleeing Philadelphia. They are packing up their families and heading to the burbs for a "better education" for their kids.
A whopping 25% of our listings are couples moving out because they have preschool-aged children and they wont send their kids into the Philadelphia Public School system. Why are they leaving when we have a Mayor and other politicians who boast that they have their kids in the Philadelphia school system? If it is good enough for them...
Our personal experience is this: There is a definite flight out of Philly once a young employed professional couple's kid hits the preschool age. It is for the most part not even a question in their mind if they will stay in Philly. They won't stay.
Okay, so we know of one exception. A young couple that we know recently had their first child and plan to stay in Philly. At least that is their plan but unlike most Philadelphians, their income can sustain a private school education for their newborn. That is just not possible for a majority of the young families out there.
We have spoken frankly to clients and neighbors who have raised their kids in Philly. Most did so out of necessity. They simply did not have the luxury or an alternative choice. What does that say about our city? To us it says Philadelphia caters to the young single or couple without kids. Is it because they are cheap and easy to please? Is it because they demand less from the government yet pay the hefty city wage tax? The city has almost no accountability to this demographic. Has the city of Philadelphia forgotten how much power and influence children have in the household and as consumers?
Let's give credit where credit is due. Philly has people who try to change the education reputation in the city with Charter Schools, as well as teachers and staff who are driven toward creating excellence in their schools. No excuses. But they are swimming against an epic tide of failure in the public school system.
"I will only do charter schools for my child," confirms Mary, mother of an energetic 9 year old attending FACTS - Folk Arts Cultural Treasures School in Chinatown. "The Philadelphia Public Schools cut out arts, music, gifted and talented programs. Charter schools don't cut those programs."
Elaine, a native of Kensington and a product of a Philadelphia Catholic school, is another local mom who put her children through the Philadelphia Catholic school system up until high school.
"One went to Lincoln and the other to Washington. There were fights every day. My son could not take it and dropped out only to get his GED. In hindsight, putting them through the public school system was a big mistake."
When Mothers Flee, the story typically goes like this: Angela, who now resides in Virginia, left Philadelphia as soon as she could.
"I had my first child in Philly, and after seeing what my brothers, sisters, and I went through being tossed around in the Philly system, I knew I would not stay."
There is the option of homeschooling, but for many parents, this can be a major time commitment that many with 9 to 5 jobs cannot fulfill.
As Realtors ushering in many young, excited new homeowners into the city, we can pretty much guarantee that most of them will be selling once a child enters the picture. As residents of Philadelphia ourselves we take the good with the bad. That is easy for us to say, having no children. But it pains us deeply to see such a weak link in the city that we love so much.
To the soon-to-be mothers and fathers out there: What do you think? If you plan to have children will you stay in Philadelphia? Is public school in your child's future? And for the parents with kids in the public schools, what is your experience? So many of us want to know.