This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Thomas Short loves that his two sons attend St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School in South Philadelphia.
He says it makes a world of difference for his boys and fears they would falter in a less-structured environment.
Short’s opinion of the nearby neighborhood public schools is low.
"They’re not trying to develop the person as much as just trying to get them through to the next grade," he said. "I don’t know why I’m saying that. It’s just my opinion. Maybe that’s how the public schools used to be back in the day when I went."
Short’s family lives on his $1,000 monthly disability check. The only way he’s able to afford Catholic school tuition is that he takes advantage of a scholarship program that’s funded by state tax credits. Tuition for two children normally runs north of $9,000 per year.
With the scholarship, he pays just $1,500.
"Without this, [they’re] not going here," he said.