Making Philadelphia Work

Even in the midst of a very busy work week, I was able to grab coffee with a dear friend of mine. Since he also lives in the city and has two small kids, we inevitably ended up talking about school. It took a little finagling on his side, but he has a situation that works for their family, in terms of the quality of the school, the type of kids his kids will grow up with, and the time and stress levels associated with commuting. Best of all, since they're going with a charter school, there's no tuition, which is a big deal since some of the private school options he was looking at were north of a G a month.

Given where I am in life, I tend to have a lot of these kinds of conversations. And it has been neat to see how other families piece together city living so their kids will be OK. Whether it's a French schohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifol, Chinese after-school, home-schooling, or car-pooling, parents are being really creative in figuring out how to make it work. And in a city like Philadelphia, there are countless permutations of options to work from.

With the recent news coverage of a baby boom in Center City (is there something in the water?), you'll likely overhear many more conversations between young parents about how they finagled school for their kids. All of this for the joy of living in a vibrant, multi-modal big city with all of its great restaurants, cultural scene, and dominant sports teams, instead of settling for the mind-numbing, auto-dependent existence of the suburbs.

If the school choices keep getting better, and the reasons for urban living keep on proliferating to provide motivation to young parents to figure out how to make school work for their kids, I think Philadelphia is on the verge of something special. Of course, I've thought this for awhile. But now that I am thinking it as a parent of two school-age kids, and have been hearing from others in my position, I think it all the more.

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