It’s All GOOD at Archbishop Wood! John Mosco Interview

As we are quickly approaching the start of another exciting scholastic basketball season in Philadelphia, people across the country are focusing on perennial powers Roman Catholic and Neumann-Goretti. Those two along with Archbishop Caroll have fielded nationally ranked boys basketball teams over the past few years. When you consider that Conwell-Egan also won a PIAA state championship last year, it becomes apparent that the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) is the most competitive high school basketball league in the state and arguably one of the premier leagues in the nation.  Schools like West Catholic Prep and Bonner are trying mightily to crack the upper echelon. Here I present an interview with John Mosco, Head Coach at Archbishop Wood.

Mosco has been a prominent figure in Philly schoolboy hoops for nearly 2 decades. He served an apprenticeship under Carl Arriagle in the legendary Neumann-Goretti program. Two years ago, Mosco was handed the reigns at Wood. Widely recognized as one of the “good guys” in the Philly hoops community, he has been working diligently to build a respectable program. His team plays hard and they play unselfishly. He has developed some of the best young players in the Philadelphia region. This could be the year Wood breaks through and challenges the Big 3 for PCL Catholic League supremacy.

John Mosco

John Mosco, Head Coach, Archbishop Wood Boys Basketball

Black Cager: I think the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) is arguably the best scholastic High School basketball league in the country when you look at it top to bottom. I’m not talking about leagues that have 5th year guys or the New England Prep School League. I’m talking about pure high school basketball. What are your feelings about the ability of the PCL to compete on a national level?

John Mosco: I think night in, night out with quality of the coaches in the PCL, the way they prepare their teams, it’s the hardest league to play in. You see what teams like Roman, Neumann-Goretti and Carroll did last year on the national scene. Especially with Carroll losing Ernest to injury and they were still able to win big games at the City of Palms. Neumann-Goretti was supposed be in a down year and they won a State Championship and could have won a Catholic League Championship. Roman Catholic pretty much ran the table only having 2 losses, both in the league. They beat everyone outside the league. My first year here everybody thought I was crazy when we scheduled DeMatha and other high powered programs. But I want my players to have those experiences. They can play against the best players and tell their family members and friends they play against the best. Every night you have to bring it because you could lose just as easily as you could win.

Black Cager: I had the good fortune of attending one of your games last year. You were at Roman Catholic and we all know that’s a tough, tough place to play. The gym is not regulation size. Your boys came in there in front of a standing on each other crowd and managed to pull that game out. You have a very young team. What did that mean for the program? And, how will that help you get your guys to understand that you can compete and win against the very best teams in the city?

John Mosco: That game meant a lot to me. For two years, we were talking about having a signature win. We felt that that was our signature win. We were able to walk in there and win. Keep in mind they hadn’t lost there in seven (7) years. Juanya Green hit a buzzer beater to beat them, but I think that was at least 7 years ago. Since then, then haven’t lost in that building. I’ve been on the wrong end os some severe beating there at Neumann. I remember Donnie Carr crushing out team before the Neumann-Roman game was moved every year. To be able to compete against Roman and beat Roman was great accomplishment for our program. Roman is a program that we look up to with their accomplishments. They are the big dogs on the street. We’re trying to instill in our kids a belief that they can just go out and compete with anyone. It’s just high school basketball. The game is 32 minutes and if you play your hardest you are going to come out on top.

Black Cager: As I watched that game, one kid in particular really kind of stood out. I heard a few people standing next to me say, “you know he’s only a freshman.” Once that really settled in and I’m watching the game, I was amazed at the way the kid was able to compete, especially on the boards. Now when it’s all said and done he will be a Division 1 wing, but for you last year he was a force on the boards. Tell me a little bit about Tyree Pickron and some of your other young kids and what we can expect to see from them going forward.

Tyree Pickron

Tyree Pickron, Archbishop Wood Sophomore

John Mosco: Tyree is a special kid. He trusted me enough to come all the way out to Wood. He lives about 3 or 4 blocks from Roman Catholic and he takes a 55 minute commute by bus everyday. He really fit in here academically. That’s what I’m more proud of. You talk to the teachers and the administration and they love him because he does all the right things in the building. We preach that to him first and foremost. We told him listen your gonna play, but your gonna be out of position. We have a lot of guards and your gonna have to play the 4. He ended up being our second leading rebounder and started every game as a freshman. I gave him an opportunity to play and he really took advantage of it. In that game he had 14 points and 14 rebounds. He hit several big buckets as Roman was making a run to come back. He was really poised. He hit jump shot after jump shot. He has a lot to work on, but I think every sophomore in the country does. He’s in the gym. He takes the criticism. He listens to the seniors. He doesn’t try to do more than he has to. But, he also knows when its time for him to take over and he did it in that game. Overall, I think he needs to work on his ball-handling. I also think the jump from freshman to sophomore is huge because you go from being the low man on the scouting report to 1st or 2nd. He’s going to have to adjust to being guarded by the best defender. He might not have 20 points every night, but he has to keep grinding. I think he will.

Black Cager: I also happened to see you guys playing against Reading in the Villanova team camp this summer. During that game, I could see that he clearly relished the opportunity to match up with Lonnie Walker. How do you think Pickron matches up with the kids that tend to get more national recognition because of the name on the front of their jerseys? Kids that play for Roman and Neumann or kids that come out of places like Chester or Reading get a lot of publicity. People are expecting them, they are waiting to see them come along. With what you are building here Pickron and some of your other players are going to have to fight for recognition as elite level players. But, early on they appear that they will be just as good.

John Mosco: Yeah… they do… I think my guys have a chance to be recognized on the national stage. It’s all about getting better. If he helps get us to the Palestra, he’s gonna get al lot of that credit along with Tommy Funk (West Point commit) and Colin Gillespie. The further we go and if we are able to win the Catholic league Championship that will bring recognition to the school like our football program. By the time Tyree graduates from here I think he will have all of that recognition. He plays hard, he’s not worried about who he’s playing for in the summer. I think people are gonna be surprised when he goes to Hoop Group or some other camp and plays very well. We talk about that here. Summer is the time for players to shine as individuals. Summer League Championships don’t get you invited to state championships. Tyree needs to work on handling the ball. I want him to do that in the summer leagues. Tommy Funk needs to work on his jump shot, I want him to take more shots in the summer leagues.

Tommy Funk

Tommy Funk, Archbishop Wood Senior (Army Commit)

Black Cager: I think you are unique in your ability to integrate waht you do with what the AAU/Grassroots programs do in the summer. I’ve seen you at AAU practices and your very familiar with the AAU programs. Clearly, going forward for any HS program to be successful they have to adapt to what goes on in summer basketball. Philly has some really hyper-competitive summer basketball programs. How do you go about maintaining relationships, staying above the fray and not have the different programs hating on each other.

John Mosco: I think it’s about communication. You have to communicate with them. Give them your schedule… where you are going for team camp and they give you their schedule outlining where they will play during elite season. July is a busy month. I tell my kids I need them for one event… The Hoop Group team camp. If they can’t make it, I’m not going to hold it against them as long as I know they are playing at a tournament with Team Philly, Team Final or the Jersey Shore Warriors. It just provides a chance for a younger kid to play. What I don’t like is when the kids don;t communicate with both the program or the HS team and we don’t know each other’s schedule. In March I reach out to the AAU programs and get their schedules so I’ll know where guys are going. We lift two days a week and they have to go to that. They can go to AAU practice… It’s about getting better. You have to have an open door policy.

Black Cager: You know I’ve been involved in this thing for about 20 years and NCAA eligibility has always been a moving target. In 2016, it’s going to change again in a very big way. What are some of the steps that you guys are taking to make sure your kids are ok. I know your upper classmen are pretty bright kids and that’s not an issue. But what would you say to any 8th grader or any kid entering high school in terms of what they can do to make sure they are on the right track?

John Mosco: I think it starts before they get to HS. We talk to kids that registered at Wood for HS before they get here. We let them know what they have to do with their grades and progress reports to stay eligible and meet college expectations. I am very lucky here at Wood, we have a great counseling team and they are on top of everything. We have a strong football program and they understand what each kid has to do to be eligible to play Division 1 and Division 2 college sports. They are tracking their grades, they understand what a core course is, they understand the core GPA. We don’t have to explain it to them, they are explaining it to us. They are on top of the new formula. The head counselor is Ms. O’Grady. Her son played basketball here, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and played baseball at Rutgers. She understands what it means to be a student-athlete. It’s not just pushing kids through to get a 70. It’s pushing them to get a B or an A.

Black Cager: I think Wood, now that you mention it is really unique. The girls basketball team, if not the best, is one of the 2 or 3 best programs in the state of Pennsylvania. The football program, the baseball program and the golf program are all super-competitive. You are bring boys basketball along. I don’t see why you can’t be one of the best programs in the Catholic League which puts you among the very best in the state. Is that your expectation this year?

kwalifi Poster - Bruiser Flint-page-0

John Mosco: Yeah… my expectation every year, even last last, is to win the PCL title. That’s our first goal, to win the PCL. I tell these kids there is not a better experience than playing in the PCL semifinals and final at the Palestra. There are 9,500 people cheering for you or against you. You see last year 3 PCL boys teams won state championship and the PCL also won a girls championship. Constitution, also from District 12 won the other boys championship. I think the state is not really fond of District 12 winning all these titles.

Black Cager: I think clearly the PIAA, is considering different ways to make Philly teams play each other before the Championship games. They are thinking about going back to the East vs West format.

John Mosco: I think the state should continue to place teams where they belong and let the best teams play for the title. Roman vs King and Neumann vs Carrol were the best teams in those classifications and they deserved to play for the championship.

Black Cager: I think the state views the boys tournament as a money maker. The Philly teams have only been playing for state championships for about a decade or so. Our schools do not travel as well as some of the schools that have been playing for state championships for 50-60 years.

John Mosco: That’s why the state loves Chester. I give them all the credit. When they play for the championship, the whole city comes out to support them. It’s tough because we are representing one city. If MLK goes or if Roman goes the city is not going to follow them and go to the game. Even if Wood goes, all of Warminster is not going to travel to the game. So it’s different for city teams. That’s why I put a lot more stock into winning the Catholic League.

Black Cager: In general, let’s talk about Philadelphia basketball at the amateur level. The sense I get it that we are struggling. It’s no secret that some of our very, very best players have had a hard time adjusting to college life. The expectations thrust upon are young people when they enter college life have proven to be challenging for some. You see a lot of transfers back home. You see kids quitting school. You see kids having to go to junior college. I can easily name 10-12 kids off the top of my heads that struggled with the transition. What are some of the things we can do to help the kids be more successful?

John Mosco: I don’t think it’s just Philly… I think it’s the way things are structured… With the live periods in place, the coaches don’t to watch these kids enough and they are taking chances on kids and that’s why there are over 600 transfers every year. Coaches don;t want to wait for a kid to kid better and the kids don’t want to wait. The kids think they should be able to just go to college and play right away. People want to drive a Cadillac, no one wants to drive a Honda. They are all going higher than they should go. They don’t go to the schools that really want them. I think the Philly schools see the Philly kids so much they tend to over-evaluate them. They see them so much they start to focus on their flaws more than coaches from out of state see their flaws. Kids are being talked to by their AAU coaches and their parents, they want to play right away. It’s not just in the city. Even up here I’m fighting with kids from the suburbs that are listening to AAU guys and parents. Everybody has the same problems, they are just in different locations. Everybody’s goal is to be a Division 1 player. Not listening to to right people hurts some kids. There are some guys out there that don’t have the kid’s best interest in mind.

Black Cager: I agree 100%.

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John Mosco: I tell my kids all the time. I go to work every day. I work for PECO. I don’t put food on my table with this basketball thing. When they get to the next level, the coaches are relying on 18-19 year old kids to put food on their table. It’s a business. If that kid doesn’t want to listen, or has a bad semester they are all over him. They may not be willing to work through the issues. As it progresses it gets worse because they are under so much pressure to win. If they are not winning, then they go get the transfers. Now you have the 5th year kid that’s a transfer and he’s much older and stronger than the freshmen. As a result, some coaches don’t even want to look at seniors coming out of high school. They want superstars. They don’t want kids that are gonna work to get better. I talked to a lot Division 2 schools and they don’t even want to recruit, they just wait for the Division 1 transfers. It’s tough, you’re either D1 or D3.

Black Cager: I really appreciate this interview. As a final question: What do you have to say to Chris McNesby, Carl Arrigale and Paul Romanczuk? Are you coming for them?

John Mosco: Carl is like my brother… we talk every day. He’s knows what I’m doing and I know what he’s doing? We been coming for those guys the last two years. It’s a hard thing to crack. Those are the premier programs in the PCL. In our league everybody knows who you are and they know what you are bringing night after night. Last year, every game was the NCAA championship for the teams they played against. But we got few surprises and we’ll be ready for them. I want thank you for taking the time to come and visit us.

Charles Brown & Ryan Daly: Two Elite Philly Shooters

Philadelphia is known for producing tough, highly skilled basketball players. Every year, college coaches trek to the City of Brotherly Love from all parts of the country in search of Philly ballplayers.  In recent years, Jaquan Newton made his way south to Miami, Rakeem Christmas just finished a brilliant career at Syracuse and Savon Goodman is toiling away out west at Arizona State. These players, as well as others like Jabril Trawick (Georgetown) and Maurice Watson (Creighton), embody what coaches have come to expect from Philly ballers.

Entering the collegiate ranks in the Fall of 2016, Charles Brown (Philly Pride/George Washington HS) and Ryan Daly (Jersey Shore Warriors/Archbishop Carroll HS) possess a skill that sets them apart on the Philly landscape. These guys can flat out shoot the ball.  They are both very confident shooters, especially when the game is on the line. Brown recently hit a game winning 3 in the first leg of the Under Armour Circuit in New Orleans. (congratulated by his teammates, far right).

Charles Brown pic 1-page-0

Brown can put the ball on the floor and create his own mid-range shot from anywhere on the floor and he doesn’t need much space to get his shot off. Over the past year, he has become adept at getting defenders off balance using pump fakes and he is very difficult to guard because he possesses a quick and consistent release on his shot.

At 6’6″ 180 lbs Brown (below) possesses very good size and terrific length. A young player, that never re-classified, he isn’t very physically strong. He displays good overall athleticism. Brown has decided to spend the 2015-16 school year at St. Thomas More Prep School in Connecticut. His aim is increase his strength and quickness while playing in the super competitive New England Preparatory School Athletic Council.

Charles Brown pic 2Brown has offers from Drexel, Hofstra and Robert Morris. He has also been receiving interest from high major programs like Alabama and Maryland. When asked about his recruitment, Brown expressed a desire to stay close to home. His parents have consistently attended his high school and AAU games. The Brown’s are a close knit family. He made it clear that he really likes St. Joseph’s. “Coach [Geoff] Arnold has been very honest with me from the beginning, he has provided me with information that has helped me understand my options. He has developed a relationship with my family. My parents and I are very comfortable with St. Joseph’s.”

Ryan Daly Pic1For the past two seasons, Ryan Daly has been used as a shooting specialist that wasn’t asked to do much else in the high powered Archbishop Carroll program. Paul Romanczuk has produced six Division 1 level players while Ryan has been in the program. Austin Tilghman (Monmouth), Derrick Jones (UNLV commit), Ernest Aflakpui (Temple commit), David Beatty (multiple offers), Josh Sharkey (multiple offers) and Daly will all play Division 1 basketball.

Surrounded by this vast array of talent, Daly gets the vast majority of his shots spotting up, coming off of screens, and spreading the floor in transition. He has a tremendous outside shot, making 60 3-point shots this past season. Employing textbook form with great touch, he loves to shoot the three ball. He has shown that he is able to knock it down with a hand in his face, but is simply lights out when he’s unguarded. One of the area’s best catch and shoot players. In high school competition, he has been running off of screens and floating to the open spot on the perimeter for two years.

While running for the Jersey Shore Warriors on the AAU circuit, Ryan instinctively gets open as the play develops. He is very good at coming off screens, and is becoming more effective against quicker guards who can close him out quickly and get a hand in his face. Daly is an excellent  midrange shooter and will  knock down jump shots from all over the place with consistency. He is also an outstanding rebounder from the backcourt, making effective use of his strength and determination.

Standing 6’4″ and weighing in at a solid 195, Daly is an outstanding student. He has offers from 2 Ivy League schools (Penn and Brown) as well as Hartford (America East). He has also received interest from several other schools with strong academic reputations (Lafayette, Davidson and Quinnipiac). Daly says academics and geographic location are very important to him. He wants to attend a “good college” that lies somewhere between Connecticut and Virginia/North Carolina. His mother, Tracie is the daughter of the late Jim Boyle, a legendary player and successful coach at St. Joseph’s. His father, Brian, is a former Philadelphia Catholic League Player of the Year and also a former St. Joseph’s Hawk. While he doesn’t necessarily want to be in the Philadelphia vicinity, Daly does want his family to be able to attend as many of his collegiate games as possible.
For college coaches in need of elite shooters… Brown and Daly will be ready and willing to suit up in the Fall of 2016.

Philly Pride & Triple Threat is Focused on Education

PPTT(L to R) Kamal Yard, Philly Pride & Triple Threat, Bill Gibson, Chief Enrollment Manager for Secondary Schools, Nick Regina, Deputy Secretary for Enrollment Management and Eric Worley, Philly Pride & Triple Threat

Philly Pride & Triple Threat (PPTT) is committed to serving youth in and around the Philadelphia area in three distinct arenas; Education, Athletics, and Life.

Educationally, members of the foundation receive the necessary academic incentives and support to assure success in the classroom. Athletically, members of the foundation compete on a well organized basketball team and are involved in other basketball related activities. The two main goals athletically are; development of fundamental skills and exposure to college coaches. From a Life standpoint, participants are coached and mentored by high character and quality individuals with the primary goal of instilling appropriate life lessons in the individual students.

Eric Worley and Kamal Yard are diligently working together to inspire promising inner city youth to be leaders, champions and student-athletes as well empowering them to be successful in high school, college and life.

Specifically, these gentlemen use basketball as a “hook” to engage young men and women in the program.  The larger, more important objective is to help Philadelphia area youth access high quality educational opportunities, internalize positive value systems and refine life skills that will prepare them for the day the ball stops bouncing.

Their track record is extremely strong.

Rysheed JordanRysheed Jordan, St. John’s University, Philly Pride & Triple Threat Alum

Well over 30 collegiate athletes have come through the program. St. John’s Rysheed Jordan and DePaul’s Brittany Hrynko are both projected to go in the 1st round of the NBA and WNBA draft respectively.  The PPTT program has developed some of Philadelphia’s most talented players in recent years.  Many have prospered in some of the most academically challenging independent and Catholic high schools in the area.  Recent Temple University commit Levan Alston (Haverford School), St. Joseph’s University commit Chris Clover (St. Joseph’s Prep), Tony Carr (Roman Catholic), Sean Lloyd (Mt. Zion Prep, MD), Josh Sharkey (Archbishop Carroll), and Lamar Stephens (Haverford School) have come through their ranks.  In each case, the young men were well-prepared for the rigorous academic programs they encountered.

Philly Pride & Triple Threat is, clearly, one the leading youth sports development programs in the Greater Philadelphia region.  They take the responsibility of preparing students very seriously.  Over the past couple of years, Philadelphia’s public schools have faced unprecedented budget problems and experienced massive teacher and counselor layoffs. An already under-served group of urban students have found themselves virtually abandoned.  As a result, the roles of Worley and Yard have evolved and expanded.

They have become de facto school counselors for a significant portion of the 500 or so students in their program. More and more, they have been asked to help guide more students from poor and middle-class families to the area’s top middle and high schools. By default, Philly Pride & Triple Threat has been providing students with the kind of personalized counseling that students from more affluent families tend to get from private counselors or their school-based guidance counselors in the suburbs. They have worked tirelessly to establish relationships with Independent and Catholic Schools in Philadelphia out of necessity.

Brittany HyrkroBrittany Hrynko, Depaul University, Philly Pride & Triple Threat Alum

As noted earlier, Philadelphia is the midst of an unprecedented series of budget cuts. The cuts were to the bone!! In 2013, the Philadelphia school system laid off 3,783 employees, including 676 teachers and 283 counselors. Along with teachers and counselors, those losing their jobs included 127 assistant principals and 1,202 aides who monitor the cafeteria and playgrounds. Most recently, The SDP raided the The existing Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund, which has about $40 million built up in it. The future for Philadelphia’s public schools is very bleak.

Nonetheless, every day Yard and Worley work with students and parents hungry for good school placements.  They recognized that they needed to become much more knowledgeable about the application and financial aid process at tuition-based schools. Toward that end, they recently met with Nick Regina, Deputy Secretary for Enrollment Management and Bill Gibson, Chief Enrollment Manager for Secondary Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Yard says, “Mr. Regina and Mr. Gibson made us feel that our students would be welcomed in Catholic schools. I learned some important things that I can’t wait to share with our families.”  He gained a better understanding of the processes in place within Catholic High Schools.  According to Yard, “The Catholic high schools are very real options for our kids, we’ll make every effort to link our parents with admissions staff in several Archdiocese schools.”

Worley, a former teacher and principal in Philadelphia’s public and charter schools was also excited. According to Worley, “Catholic high schools are accessible and affordable for many our kids. I know first hand, how frustrating it can be for parents seeking a better school placement for their child. I look forward to helping our students access and navigate the application process.”

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Yard and Worley also have a PPTT High School Assist Project, which will help sixth through eighth grade student-athletes succeed in middle school and leverage that success to gain admission to excellent college preparatory high schools. The HS Assist Project will offer academic instruction/tutoring, homework help, life skills development and test preparation for sixth through eighth graders.

The PPTT College Assist Project, will continue to provide high school student-athletes with the individual support necessary to be successful in high school and to prepare for college. College Assist Project support includes SAT and other test preparation, high school counseling, application/financial aid workshops, college visits and NCAA eligibility and recruiting guidance.

If you want see the fruits of Yard’s and Worley’s labor just peruse the rosters of Inter-Ac and Catholic High School teams or check your TV listings and find some Big East games, women or men.

Black Athletes, Race and the Rise of NCAA Eligibility Requirements

Imagine this scenario, a scientist develops a gas that kills mosquitoes but can cause some people to go blind.  Let’s say, the gas only blinds white people with blonde hair and blue eyes.  A few people with white people brown or black hair might get sick but they don’t go blind.  Some with brown or green eyes may get a headache, but they don’t lose their vision.  Blacks, Asians and Latinos are unaffected by the gas.  At the request of the Mayors, the scientist decides to release the gas in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.  All of the mosquitoes are killed but over 200,000 white people with blonde hair and blue eyes lose their ability to see.

Did the scientist discriminate against people with white blonde hair and blue eyes?  Furthermore, suppose the scientist says, “I’m not targeting any specific group, I’m just killing mosquitoes.”  Investigators would ask, “Did you know the gas would cause people with blonde hair and blue eyes to go blind?”  The scientist answers, “yes, but I didn’t target them specifically… I just released the gas to kill mosquitoes.”  How would you view the scientist? Is he a racist? Would it matter that he says he didn’t “target” people with blonde hair and blue eyes?  Whatever his intentions, white people with blonde hair and blue eyes were disproportionately harmed by the intervention.

duke-team-1966-67Duke Men’s Basketball Team, 1966-67

From 1905 through the early 1970’s, major NCAA college basketball and football programs fielded teams that were predominantly white.  In the south, major college athletics was exclusively the preserve of white males for these seven decades.  During this entire 70 year period, there were no substantial “academic reforms” initiated by the NCAA.   In 1959, the NCAA determined that 12 credits per semester defined normal progress.  In 1965, a 1.6 minimum GPA was established for continuing eligibility.  In 1973, the 1.6 rule was replaced with a simpler requirement of a 2.0 high school GPA for initial eligibility, and restoring institutional authority over determining normal progress.

Please note, when the players were overwhelmingly white, academic standards were either non-existent or incredibly low.

1966AlabamaCrimsonTideAlabama Crimson Tide Football Team, 1966

Throughout the 1970’s major college revenue sports underwent a “tanning”  process as Blacks became a majority of the football and basketball athletes.  By the the early 1980’s, Blacks represented the lion’s share of scholarship athletes in revenue sports.  NCAA Eligibility requirements soon emerged as a means of excluding many Black student-athletes from competing at the NCAA Division 1 level.  Like the scientist in the earlier hypothetical, the NCAA says it did not “intend” to disproportionately impact Blacks.  It just happened.

Condride HallowayCondredge Holloway, Tennessee Volunteers, 1st Black QB (1972) in the SEC

With abandonment of rigid Apartheid-like segregation in the South, the 1970s witnessed a rapid influx of Black student-athletes in major college football and basketball. College coaches across the country were, finally, able to recruit the best student-athletes. This resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of Black student-athletes in major college programs. In about 10 years, Blacks went from being formally excluded to a majority of the players.  The rapid increase in Black student-athlete representation was accompanied by calls for academic reform.  Some felt the reforms were intended to halt and even reverse the gains made by Black athletes.

Charlie ScottCharlie Scott, the first Black scholarship athlete at UNC

Over the years,  a few outspoken critics forcefully asserted that academic reforms were racially motivated. In January of 1989, Temple Coach John Chaney declared, “The NCAA is a racist organization of the highest order… On this day, it instituted a new punishment on black kids who have already been punished because they are poor. Any time the NCAA, which is 90 percent white, considers the youngsters in Division I basketball and football, it discriminates, because 89 percent of the kids are black… I wonder what message they are sending. It’s another hardship for black kids made by white folk.”  Coach Chaney wasn’t alone in voicing displeasure.

Also in January of 1989, Georgetown Coach John Thompson walked off the in protest before the start of a game against Boston College. At the time Thompson said, “I’ve done this because, out of frustration, you’re limited in your options of what you can do in response to something I felt was very wrong…. This is my way of bringing attention to a rule a lot of people were not aware of – one which will affect a great many individuals. I did it to bring attention to the issue in hopes of getting [NCAA members] to take another look at what they’ve done, and if they feel it unjust, change the rule.”

John ThompsonJohn Thompson, Jr., Former Georgetown Head Coach

The NCAA position regarding academic reforms has been consistent throughout the years. The NCAA officials said the legislation gave no consideration to racial implications, although it has been estimated that approximately 90 percent of the 600 students a year who will be affected are black.  Paradoxically, the NCAA is saying we know the reforms disproportionately impact Blacks but we gave no consideration to race.

Beginning in the early 1980s, the NCAA implemented significant changes in the freshman eligibility rules. The NCAA developed and implemented Proposition 48 at its’ 1983 convention. The racially disparate impact of the reform is beyond dispute. The rule change had a harsh impact on Blacks, especially those from low-income households.  Formulated in 1983 and fully implemented in 1986, Prop 48 rule stipulated, entering freshmen would be eligible for scholarships only if they had achieved a grade point average of at least 2.0 in 11 core college preparatory courses and, when it came to the two standard college entrance examinations, attained a minimum score of 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or 15 on the American College Testing Program’s exam.

Given the historical context of Apartheid-like segregation and the systematic exclusion of Blacks, many viewed the NCAA academic reforms as attempt to assuage the fears of racist University administrators and their supporters. These critics were especially concerned about the lack of African-American participation on the committee that developed the original Proposition 48 document. A reform measure that disproportionately impacted Blacks was developed, designed and implemented by an all-white committee.  It’s easy to understand why some feel that academic reforms are intended limited and even reduce the presence of Black student-athletes while simultaneously preserving the spirit and perception of racial inclusion.

Critics allege that Prop 48 and the subsequent reforms represent an attempt to devise a regulatory structure that would allow for some minority participation but facilitate continuation of the long standing tradition of predominantly white participation.

The racially disparate impact of the reforms are obvious. In one study, Richard Lapchick of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society, found that if Prop 48 had been in place in 1981, 69% of all males entering college on athletic scholarships would have been ineligible. More than two-thirds of the freshman male Black student-athletes would have been denied an opportunity to go to college on an athletic scholarship. Moreover, 54% of those student-athletes eventually graduated. That graduation rate was comparable to the graduation rate for all students which stood at 57%.

C48F2298Richard Lapchick, Center or the Study of Sport in Society

The loophole in the 1983 rule allowed “partial qualifiers,” students with a 2.0 high school GPA who didn’t make the requisite standardized test score, to attend college on athletic scholarships for one year. Although partial qualifiers lost one year of athletic eligibility and were not permitted to compete in their first year, they had a chance to gain eligibility by posting a 2.0 GPA during that year.

In 1990, the NCAA adopted Proposition 42, under which student-athletes failing to score at least 700 on the SAT or an equivalent score on the ACT and a 2.0 GPA were ineligible for any type of financial aid. Partial qualifiers were eligible for need-based, non-athletic financial aid.  Prop 42 was written and sponsored by the Southeastern Conference (SEC).  The SEC was the last major conference to allow Black participation.  The SEC voted to phase it in unilaterally even if the NCAA did not adopt the measure.

In 1995, the NCAA’s eligibility requirements became more stringent. The NCAA increased the number of required course from 11 to 13 and voted to implement a sliding scale in addition to retaining the SAT and ACT as a key component of the eligibility standards. Beginning August 1996, students with a 2.0 in 13 core course had to score at least 900 on the SAT. For each ten-point drop in SAT scores, student-athletes had to have a corresponding .025 increase in grade point average. Thus a student with a 2.5 GPA could score 700 and still be eligible.

In 2003, the NCAA enacted tougher standards for initial eligibility beginning with students first enrolling in the fall of 2008. The number of required core course went from 13 to 14.

In 2012, the NCAA approved another series of increasingly tougher reforms. Beginning is 2016, student-athletes would have to complete 16 core courses. Of those 16 core courses, 10 would have to be completed before the beginning of the senior year and grades from those core courses are “locked in” for computing a GPA once the senior year begins. In other words, there are no more emergency summer sessions in the senior year to rectify failing grades.

Mark EmmertNCAA President Mark Emmert

Additionally, a student-athlete must have a minimum GPA of 2.3 in those 16 core courses (up from 2.0) with an accompanying sliding scale SAT/ACT score. As originally conceived, a student-athlete with a 2.3 GPA would have to score 1080 on the SAT or an equivalent score on the ACT. Currently, a student-athlete with a 2.3 GPA has to score 900 on the SAT. Beginning in 2016, a student-athlete with a minimum GPA of 2.0 is considered an “academic redshirt.” He or she may practice with but not compete for his/her team for the first semester. Under present rules, a student-athlete with a 2.0 GPA could score a 1010 and be eligible for a scholarship and participation. Additionally, beginning this year, junior college transfers will be required to have a 2.5 GPA (up from 2.0) in their transferable credits.

At a subsequent meeting, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors maintained its support for higher grades and a core course progression. However, the NCAA adopted legislation that would keep for the foreseeable future the test score/grade-point average sliding scale at the current level for student-athlete access to financial aid, practice and competition in the first year.

The Board acknowledged that requiring prospects to meet a more stringent sliding scale starting in 2016 would negatively impacted low-income minority youth.  They publicly noted that there would have been a significant decrease in the number of eligible student-athletes from America’s inner cities.  The 1080 SAT requirement with a 2.3 GPA could have effectively eliminated tens of thousands of Black student-athletes.  For example 39 of Philadelphia’s 58 (67.2%) public High Schools have average SAT scores below 800.  The likelihood of student-athletes from these types of schools scoring 1080 or higher is virtually nil.

In effect too much of the football and basketball athletic talent pool would be off limits.  Those consequences led the Board to its decision to retain the current sliding scale standard.

For nearly seventy years, from 1905 -1970, the NCAA consisted of conferences that explicitly practiced racial exclusion.  “Whites only” was the guiding feature of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and the old Southwestern Conference. During this era there was almost no attention paid to academics by the NCAA.  By the early 1980’s Blacks became a majority of football and basketball student-athletes.  Since then, the NCAA has implemented five successive “academic reforms.”  Each reform package has been more restrictive than prior measures.  The scientists remain busy as ever in the lab.  Be on the lookout for blonde haired, blue eyed people walking into walls.

One Family at a Time: Increasing Minority Catholic/Private Enrollment In Philly

We are witnessing a profound paradigm shift in the manner in which urban K-12 educational services are delivered.  Urban public schools have seemingly abandoned hope.  Right before our eyes, the traditional urban public school systems of our youth die a tortuous, slow and excruciatingly painful death. Constant pressure is being applied with great force to the “throat” of urban public school systems. This asphyxiation of public education in places like Philadelphia, presents a tremendous opportunity for Catholic, Private and other tuition-based schools to dramatically increase their enrollment figures.

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We are in the midst of a period of “public education austerity,” which has been gaining traction for several years. Deep and sustained administrator, teacher and guidance counselor layoffs accompanied by widespread school closings and service cuts are clear symptoms of this particular disease. These massive human resource reductions and school shutterings have been instituted with alarming consistency in low-income urban areas across the nation. They are part and parcel of the trend toward a “Portfolio” management model in urban education.

Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Camden and Philadelphia are among the large urban districts that are shifting from a centralized bureaucracy that directly manages traditional neighborhood based schools toward the Portfolio model in which District Administrators enter into contracts with a few public schools, privately managed schools, and charter schools. Last year alone, Philadelphia closed 29 schools. Chicago closed 49, New York 26 and Washington, DC 15. Other urban areas transitioning to this Portfolio Management approach are Baltimore, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Washington.

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A key feature of this strategy appears to be economic strangulation of the remnants of traditional neighborhood schools. Given the fiscal constraints facing administrators of traditional urban schools, continued abysmal academic performance is inevitable. Of course, this will lead to more and more school closings. National education management organizations (EMOs) and large corporate charter operators will continue to gain a larger share of the urban public education market. Or, so they think.

Portfolio models have emerged in wide range of strategic environments, but they have an important limitation. In each of the aforementioned cities, the “shot callers” – politicians, board members, superintendents, etc. – have made their move.  For example, the School District of Philadelphia has shown its’ hand.  Now other “players” have an opportunity to react and respond accordingly.  In “real life” all of the players in the “urban education market” players don’t choose their strategies simultaneously.  Instead, the game transpires over time, with players making “moves” to which other players react with their own “moves.” Here I explore the likely “moves” of the tuition-based schools, represented by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and urban low to moderate income parents of school age children.

It is important to note that the School District of Philadelphia’s educational “shot-callers” may not have fully considered the extent to which the timing of strategic decisions is important.  Despite years of sad stability, the urban educational service delivery “market” is potentially a dynamic and constantly changing strategic environment.  The shot-caller pay lip service to this fact.  Proponents of the Portfolio model argue that it allows districts a degree of flexibility unavailable under traditional service delivery models. What they fail to appreciate is the extent to which their actions could lead to a mass exodus of students from the public school system altogether.

For years, urban public school board members, superintendents and administrators operated as a de facto monopoly. The actual consumer of public schools — parents and children — exercise very influence as the schools have become more and more centralized and bureaucratic. Over the past 60 years or so, the number of school districts declined from 130,000 to 16,000. The system is top-heavy.  Classroom teachers once represented 96 percent of the total instructional staff. Today they are about 86 percent.  Federal and state resources have superseded local government as the leading source of school funds. The local percentage dropped from 83 percent to 43 percent. While population has almost doubled, the cost per student multiplied more than five-fold, even after allowing for inflation.  By any reasonable measure, the quality of urban education has declined precipitously. Urban public school systems are now run by professional bureaucrats. Monopoly and uniformity have replaced competition and diversity. Over the past five or six years, these bureaucrats began shifting to a ‘Portfolio’ management model in cities across America. In doing so, they are opening the door for high-quality alternatives like Catholic, Christian and Independent tuition-based schools to siphon off students in large numbers.

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Their misguided premise seems to be that urban public students won’t pursue tuition-based alternatives. From the perspective of the shot-callers, urban public students are captives.  They will accept whatever experiment or reform package comes down the pike.  I fundamentally disagree! Here, I explore a more dynamic representation of the urban educational setting in Philadelphia. Unlike, political leaders and school board members operating from a monopolistic perspective, assuming a stagnant and captive urban student body, I acknowledge the presence and importance of other players in the urban educational “game.”

A more extensive and informative analysis necessarily includes a more complete set of players.  Urban school districts aren’t acting in a vacuum. For present purposes, I consider three (3) sets of players: 1) The School District of Philadelphia, 2) The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and, 3) urban parents of Philadelphia’s public school students. Perhaps, most importantly, there is no assumption that urban districts can close schools, cut services, lay off teachers and other staff members with impunity. Rather, I look at their recent moves when and spell out what their choices entail. I explore what the other know when they move. Finally, I examine each set of players‘ payoffs as a function of the choices that are made.

In the Philadelphia Urban Education Entry Model illustrated below, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) is an incumbent monopolist. As of December 2013, the SDP consisted of 214 schools. This figure includes Promise Academies and excludes Early Childhood, Alternative Education Programs, and Charter Schools. The SDP enrolls over 131,000 students in these 214 schools. Another 6,982 are enrolled in Pre-K programs, 3,558 are in Alternative Education programs and 229 are in Virtual Academies.

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The School District of Philadelphia is also responsible for establishing and maintaining high standards for its charter schools, including ongoing monitoring of charter performance against clear standards and implementing consequences for not meeting standards. As such, the SDP currently “oversees” 86 charter schools with a total enrollment exceeding 60,000.  While charter schools have a degree of administrative autonomy, they are ultimately accountable to the School District of Philadelphia.  Indeed, six (6) charter schools are currently in the midst the Nonrenewal/Revocation Process in which the District’s School Reform Commission is attempting to permanently close the schools. For strategic purposes, I consider them part of the District.

With regard to urban education, especially of low to moderate income minority students, in Philadelphia, the SDP is a virtual monopoly. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has smaller but relatively stable presence in Philadelphia’s urban education market.  With the abysmal academic performance of SDP schools, the Archdiocese has an opportunity to aggressively enter the urban educational market. Plainly stated, they can make a push for Black and Latino students that are currently underserved by dysfunctional public schools. The strategic situation is represented the above diagram.

If the Archdiocese decides to “stay out” of the urban student enrollment market, the district would not lose students and the payoff for the SDP is 2. Under that scenario, the Archdiocese would not gain any additional students and their payoff would be 0. But, we can immediately eliminate this payoff option.

The Archdiocese has decided to “jump in” the the urban enrollment market. Indeed, their commitment to attracting minority students is very real. Toward that end, the nonprofit foundation that manages Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is offering $1,000 grants to encourage students to transfer to the schools.

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Christopher Mominey, chief operating officer of the Faith in the Future Foundation and the archdiocese’s secretary for Catholic education, said the new “transfer advantage” grants were part of the effort to boost enrollment at the 17 high schools.  He said the foundation wanted to attract students who were not enrolled at Catholic high schools but were interested in learning more about them. Within Philadelphia’s city limits, these students are predominantly Black, Latino and Asian. The Archdiocese is currently planning mount an aggressive targeted marketing campaign to engage minority families. This effort will be spearheaded by Nick Regina, Deputy Secretary for Enrollment Management.

With the Archdiocese aggressively competing for urban students, the SDP, theoretically, will have to choose how to compete: either aggressively (fight to keep their students), or by ceding enrollment share (accommodate). The strategic situation faced by the SDP is represented by in the diagram by the choices “fight” or “accommodate.” Again, we can immediately eliminate one of the scenarios. The district, quite frankly, is not in any position to fight.

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Even if they wanted to market themselves, it would be a very, very tough sell.  Of the 214 schools in the School District of Philadelphia, 182 (85%) are listed as “low-achieving” for the 2014-2015 school year. Put another way, nearly 9 out of every 10 Philadelphia public school ranks in the bottom 15% of Pennsylvania schools. Moreover, it’s virtually impossible to find a traditional neighborhood school that is not low-achieving. The performance levels are so poor that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has determined that students residing within the boundaries of a low-achieving school are eligible to apply for scholarships to attend another public or nonpublic school. In effect, the state of Pennsylvania is telling parents to seek better educational settings.

Hence, if they expended any of their scarce resources on a marketing/recruitment effort, they would necessarily take away from their ability to deliver educational programming. As such, the student experience within the district could only become worse. Thus, the decision to “fight” result is payoff of -1 for the SDP. At the same time, the Archdiocese will gain an increased enrollment share. The ADP payoff is 1.

Thus, the far more likely scenario is one of accommodation. One could almost see this coming. Three years ago, the SRC joined the city, state, District, and two of Pennsylvania’s largest charter umbrella organizations in joining the Philadelphia Great Schools Compact.  The group was given a $100,000 planning grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The stated aim of the compact is replacing or transforming 50,000 seats in low-performing schools with better options, without regard to whether the schools involved are operated by the District or a charter organization. The Great Schools Compact is the engine driving the push toward a “Portfolio Management” model in Philadelphia. Why would they oppose an increased number of students enrolling in tuition-based schools?

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Clearly, Catholic schools are a “better option.” By any reasonable measure Catholic schools outperform public and charter schools in Philadelphia. Over 98% of the elementary schools in the Archdiocese have been accredited by the Middle States Association, and the remaining 2% have completed the process and are awaiting their status. More than 4,000 students participate in Elementary Honors Math Programs in 78 Archdiocesan schools. These students are prepared to participate in advanced-placement mathematics courses at the secondary level. World Language instruction is offered in 102 elementary schools. Fine Arts programs are in existence in every Archdiocesan school. Students from Archdiocesan schools have taken top honors in the Future Cities competition as well as in county and regional science competitions.

The question becomes: How does the Archdiocese identify and connect with urban parents desiring access to high-quality, safe educational settings on a regular and consistent basis?  How do they overcome the seemingly “irrational” tendency of parents to enroll their children in low-achieving and highly dysfunctional public schools? The fact is far too urban many parents exhibit educational decision-making that can, perhaps, be best described as irrational or behavior without clear educational goals in mind.

First and foremost, Catholic School enrollment management and admissions professionals must understand that marketing/recruitment approaches that have worked with their traditional populations are limited by time and culture. The Archdiocese has begun to make significant inroads in that area.  Schools like West Catholic HS, Roman Catholic HS and Bishop McDevitt have significant minority student populations.  The staff at these schools have developed recruitment strategies that have been well-received by minority parents.  However, many low to moderate income parents continue to exhibit educational decision-making that is very distinct and subculture-bound.

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To be effective, Archdiocese representatives must better understand that enrollment decisions which “on their face” appear irrational may indeed be sensible.  This is an important and difficult task to accomplish.  It’s difficult because in many instances educational decision-making takes forms that typical private school parents would consider irrational.  Nonetheless, these behaviors are sensible because they are well adapted to the “real world” situations faced by low to moderate income urban families every day. By “well adapted” I mean enrolling kids in neighborhood public schools satisfies the legal requirement that children attend school without the occurrence of destructive personal stress.

In all American urban centers, to a greater or lesser extent there exists a subculture of the poor. People on the lower end of the economic spectrum view things differently than those on the middle and upper ends. It’s exceedingly hard out here for many, if not most, urban families. In real terms, the nation’s 2012 household median income of $51,017 stood at the lowest level since 1995. Median income peaked in 1999, at $56,000. In 2007, the national median household income stood at $55,627. But it has fallen every year since. When inflation is removed from the equation, median income fell 5.5% from 2005 to 2012. Most Philadelphians are much worse off than the average American. Philadelphia’s median household income was $34,207 in 2011, according to a census study. With half of Philly’s households below that figure, it’s not difficult to identify people struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their head.

Enrollment decisions for these folk conform to the notion that actions are taken to avoid pain, not to maximize educational benefits: to cope with pain, or minimize it, or to minimize its very perception. This behavior is not likely immediately recognizable to Catholic School administrators as “sensible” action. I suspect that much, if not most, urban parental behavior broadly considered is designed to minimize pain.

Dealing with daily inexorable pressure and overwhelming frustrations, many low to moderate income parents desire a predictable life. They don’t need to enroll their children in a private or parochial school only to discover that they will be unable to meet tuition payments. They want to reduce the precariousness of life. They want to know that their children will be able to attend a school and they will therefore comply with truancy laws. Many have a hard time understanding apparently irrational resistance to well-meaning attempts to improve access to quality schools. For those unfamiliar with life in the “hood” the educational choices of many urban parents is not immediately recognizable as sensible.

How can we help parents better understand the range of available options? It needs to be understood that educational decision-making intended to minimize pain is widespread in urban centers because it has deep roots in the basic, inescapable need to avoid tension and stress in a world quite correctly perceived to be hostile and unpredictable. Urban minority parents literally have to worry the thug element and the police harming their children. Will their boys be safe from police or harassment or worse traveling everyday through predominantly white neighborhoods.  Unless Catholic educators/recruiters take this fact into account they will continue trying to engage urban families with strategies that are totally irrelevant to their day-to-day existence. There is a need for a new debate, a new discussion with vastly different parameters.

In recent years, debate surrounding urban educational issues has tended to be narrowly circumscribed.  Print and TV media outlets and pundits have focused on a very narrow range of issues. They tend to frame the argument in the following manner: Should public school districts and their supporters focus attention on how to provide quality schooling with, admittedly, dwindling and insufficient resources? Or, alternatively, should school districts and their supporters continue waging (losing) a struggle to gain additional public funding?

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is adopting a very different approach to the problem of urban education. They can begin from a point which assumes that parents, guardians, grandparents and other educational placement “decision-makers” are potential consumers. That is to say, their behaviors could be influenced, subject to information and opportunity costs. The Archdiocese is assuming that, once fully informed, individual urban parents will want safe high-quality educational settings for their children. Like everyone else, Black, Latino and Asian parents will want to access the “best” schools, once they understand that it is truly achievable.

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They know that many urban parents, however, possess a very limited understanding of the Parochial school application and financial aid process. As a result, their ability to determine their “best interests” and make informed educational decisions is constrained both by perceived limited financial situations and limited understanding of the processes. This is not accidental. Urban school districts, charter school operators and the media have managed to successfully frame the discussion in such a manner that Catholic, Private and Independent school options are, generally speaking, excluded from consideration as viable options for low to middle-income urban families.

The Archdiocese recognizes that most urban parents don’t know much about how Catholic schools work. These parents don’t understand that with available financial aid, they could access quality elementary schools $250, $300 or $350 per month depending on their respective financial situation. They recognize that within urban minority communities, there is significant variation in the extent to which attention is focused on educational issues,  People have different spans of attention and parents have different levels of education. In short, they know parents need help determining what is the “best” educational setting for their children. Many, in not most, parents and students have no idea how bad their current situation actually is.

The best way to accomplish this task is to meet with these families one at a time. If the Archdiocese sticks to this approach, I’m convinced Catholic schools in Philly will “blow up.”

Philadelphia’s High School Selection Process: Why Catholic Schools?

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Across the Greater Philadelphia region, thousands of parents are facing one of their most important decisions.  Their minds are filled with questions:  Where will he/she attend high school next year?  Will the school be safe?  Are there enough teachers? Are the AP and Honors classes funded? What are the test scores?  This year, finding answers to these questions and making well-informed decisions will be more difficult than ever before.  As we all know, the School District of Philadelphia is in the midst of an unprecedented budget crisis.  As a direct result of recent cuts, students and their parents are, on their own, trying to research alternatives and find a quality high school placement.  Clearly, the time has come for most Philadelphia families to consider non-public school alternatives.  For many, the question has become: How can you NOT afford to send your child to a Catholic High School? 

In most School District of Philadelphia schools, 8th graders will be applying to high schools without the help of full-time guidance counselors, who usually lead the process.  Think about that for a moment.  Middle school students do not have access to full-time counselors while trying to navigate the complicated and complex high school application process. Confused and overwhelmed 8th grade students cannot bounce their thoughts and impressions off the person, historically, charged with that responsibility.  The district has determined that assistance with high school selection is not a priority.  

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How are students supposed to meaningfully compare and contrast the various programs and offerings of the competing public, charter and Catholic high schools?  In the past, the district provided each 8th grade student with a high school directory.  The student could take the directory home and review the offerings with their parents, grandparents and other concerned adults.  Unfortunately, budget cuts have eliminated this crucial part of the high school selection process.   For the first time in recent memory, the District will not print a high school directory; it will be available only online.  

Think about the families in your neighborhood.  Think about the kids whose parents work two jobs.  Think about the kids whose parents have alcohol and/or chemical dependency issues.  Think about the families in public housing.  What percentage has access to the internet in the home?  How many have printers in the home?  The decisions to eliminate guidance counselors and discontinue printing the high school directory, arguably, discriminate against low-income families.  Middle and upper class families will be able to easily access the information.  Poor families will be at a real disadvantage. It gets worse.

The School District of Philadelphia is not holding its annual High School Expo. In the past, the Expo facilitated more informed choices by families and students.  High schools would set up booths so that students and their families can learn about their programs and any requirements for admission. District-run neighborhood high schools, as well as  city-wide special admission schools were represented.  Many charter schools — there are more than 30 high school charter options in the city — were also there.  The District has decided it cannot sponsor the Expo.

However, there will be a High School Fair on November 16, 2013 at Drexel University, underwritten largely by the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP). Hopefully, this will fill the void to some degree.

It is important to note that the problems are not limited to Philadelphia public schools.  In recent weeks, we have witnessed six (6) students arrested for knocking a staff member unconscious at Upper Darby High School.  Scores of students have experienced health problems as a result of widespread mold in a Cheltenham School District building.  The SAT scores in the Southeast Delco, William Penn and Chester-Upland School Districts are 200-300 points below the national average.  Parents of students in suburban districts face equally difficult choices.

What is a parent to do? How can parents access high-quality, safe educational settings for their children?  

In Philadelphia, if your child is able to gain admission to one of the following “magnet” school programs, he/she will be in a competitive, relatively safe college preparatory program.  

Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School

Central High School

Academy at Palumbo

High School of Creative and Performing Arts

Bodine William W High School

Carver High School Engineering & Science

Girard Academic Music Program

Girls High School

Now, an important and, perhaps, questionable assumption is that the quality of the educational programs at these highly regarded schools will not be further diminished by budget cuts.  Keep in mind the libraries – research and independent learning resources – at Masterman and Central, two of Philadelphia’s most prestigious schools have been closed due to budget cutbacks. Ironically, gaining admission to these “magnet” programs is a very competitive process and families typically rely on guidance counselors to lead them through the process.  Now, parents unfamiliar with the process are left to fend for themselves on the internet.  

 

Why Catholic High School?

When considering Catholic school, parents often ask the question, “Can I afford to send my child?”  As noted earlier, given the state of public education in the Philadelphia region: “How can you not afford it?” The Faith in the Future Foundation and the Archdiocese will work with parents who want what is best for their children and are willing to sacrifice in order to provide it.  

Earlier this week, it was announced that 125 freshmen from across the area have been selected to receive a $2,000 Maguire scholarship award for the 2013-2014 school year.  The Maguire Foundation has committed $5 Million over the next 7 years to support students attending Archdiocesan High Schools.  This is just the most recent example of financial commitments made by supporters of Catholic education in Philadelphia.  The Faith in the Future Foundation has dedicated itself to ensuring that a high-quality Catholic education is accessible to every family that wants the best for their children. 

Catholic schools provide a school culture and an identity that is spiritually-based.  Given the turmoil, dysfunction and violence prevailing in many traditional public high schools, there is a strong desire among many parents bring God into the schools.. The atmosphere in a Catholic school provides experiences and opportunities for youngsters to know that God is a very real presence in life. 

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Over the past few years, 100% of the persistently dangerous schools in Pennsylvania were School District of Philadelphia schools. Conversely, Philadelphia Catholic Schools instill a sense of personal responsibility. Catholic schools look beyond the curricular areas to remind children that they are responsible. Discipline is synonymous with respect and responsibility.  Students are taught to be responsible for their own actions. In a spirit of justice and charity, youngsters are encouraged to respect themselves and their neighbor. In simple terms, the children are taught to be kind. Today’s codes of discipline are codes of expectations. 

Philadelphia’s Catholic schools contribute greatly to the well-being of our city. They provide anchors to neighborhoods by encouraging service to others. They help students assume a sense of civic responsibility; they encourage a thirst for justice and for peace.

Catholic schools respond to the needs of our society by affording a means for families to live and practice the gospel message and to follow the social teachings of the Church. 

More than ever, Philadelphia’s Catholic High Schools are an accessible high-quality alternative to the struggling public school systems in the region.  The vast majority of Catholic school graduates, pursue higher education. Catholic School graduates are often accepted into the most competitive and prestigious colleges. Students are expected to accept responsibility for their actions, to respect others and to make good decisions in the context of their faith experience.

The goal of a Catholic education is to help children mature into Christ-like people. Students are encouraged to recognize the presence of Christ in themselves and others. The religious formation of children begun at home is continued in Catholic school. Reverence for the human dignity of every person comes from recognizing Christ in self and others. More than “Drug-free zones” or “Gun-free zones,” Catholic schools strive to be “Christ-centered zones.”

Catholic school teachers expect every student to achieve. Parents are a child’s first teachers. At Catholic schools, parents take an active role in their children’s education. The school supports families and works with them for the benefit of children.

For more information about Catholic High Schools as well as scholarship and financial aid information, please contact:

Delgreco K. Wilson

Educational Consultant

delgrecowilson@outlook.com