To improve the quality of public education in West Philadelphia, the University has joined forces with the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. At a news conference June 18, President Judith Rodin and Superintendent of Schools David W. Hornbeck announced a series of initiatives Penn will undertake in partnership with the School District and the PFT.
The centerpiece will be a new, university-assisted public school in University City, set to open in the fall of 2001. The school, to be built by the School District on Penn-owned land at 42nd and Locust streets, will house pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and will receive significant operating support from the University.
Faculty from the Graduate School of Education will also be involved in the operation of the demonstration school for the professional development and growth of Philadelphia school teachers.
"This will be a wonderful opportunity for children in West Philadelphia," Hornbeck said. "It will be a vibrant, diverse neighborhood school with its own catchment area, and it will join with other schools in the [West Philadelphia] cluster in a broad-based, long-term effort to improve the quality of public education."
Penn will also become the lead partner in the two cluster resource boards that serve schools in the area. Dean Susan Fuhrman of the Graduate School of Education will become the primary chair of the West Philadelphia board, and Center for Community Partnerships Director Ira Harkavy will assume the same role on the University City board.
"As we have worked with our neighbors on the revitalization of our community, we have seen the necessity for Penn to be deeply involved in the future of our schools," Rodin said.
Penn will also assist the School District in obtaining a new site in West Philadelphia for the Carver High School for Engineering and Science. The proposed site for the new Carver High is in the University City Science Center at 38th and Market streets.
"I believe students and members of the faculty at Carver will come to enjoy a wonderful relationship, not only with Penn but with the other educational institutions in this area," Rodin said. "The synergy that is possible is absolutely staggering."
Originally published on September 3, 1998