A gold standard: Development of a neighborhood school in west Philadelphia

Sharon Entenberg Feinblatt, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation explores the development process of the Penn-Assisted School (PAS), a neighborhood public school initiative which opened its door to students in September 2001. With the overarching goal to improve public education in West Philadelphia, this public school was launched as a triangular educational partnership between the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Public School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. My case study analyzes the evolution of this partnership over a four-year period (1998–2001). My literature review explores three main themes: (1) university involvement in partnership activities as a commitment to social responsibility; (2) challenges, problems and barriers to success in establishing partnerships; and (3) essentials for successful initiatives. In addition to a document review, I conducted one hour interviews with eight representatives from the university administration, three representatives from the school district administration, three members of the West Philadelphia community and two consultants who were involved in the process. My findings include the following: Fiscal issues were a critical factor of school development, driving many decisions and compromises reached. The tenuous history between the University and the community impacted the overall process; the result was a more inclusive and open partnership and process than had occurred in the past. Finally, “the right people at the right time” played a significant role in this project coming to fruition; the political savvy of the players and the educational needs of the region helped fuel this process toward completion. My research will be of interest to similar institutions looking for “lessons” to utilize in the planning of future educational partnerships.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Feinblatt, Sharon Entenberg, "A gold standard: Development of a neighborhood school in west Philadelphia" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3124683.