By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – According to a Temple professor, Philadelphia’s campaign to market Center City public schools only increased the divide between the educational “haves” and “have nots.”

To try to stop middle class families from fleeing the city, the School District and the Center City District created the Center City Schools Initiative.

The Vallas-era effort from 2004 until 2007 gave parents in a new Center City region enrollment preference over those from outside.

In her book Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities, Temple urban education professor Maia Cucchiara says the effort effectively excluded poor families.

“From the perspective of someone from North Philadelphia or Southwest Philadelphia who’s trying to use a school like Greenfield or Meredith or McCall to ‘escape’ the low-performing schools in their neighborhood, they lose access to those schools,” Cucchiara explains.

She says an appeal to middle class families was fine, but the district should have made equity its priority.

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