Some 15,000 Philly charter school students started school already. Following their lead could benefit all Philly families.

Hzzah! Parents everywhere, take heed: The last gasp of summer vacation is finally upon us. The first day for most Philadelphia public school students—Wednesday—beckons like a Pokemon awaiting capture around the corner.

It will be, for many, a relief. Which begs the question: Why so late, Philly?

Several charter schools, including all of Mastery, opened their doors to upwards of 15,000 students in August. That means that while the rest of the city is still getting used to stumbling awake early, those students have already started learning. At Russell Byers Charter School, the first day of classes was on August 22 this year, initiating what founder Laurada Byers considers a “soft opening” that allows for the weeks it can take for students and teachers to hit their stride—shaking off summer, learning the rules of a new classroom, getting used to bus schedules, collecting textbooks and school supplies. By the time Labor Day comes around, Byers says her students and staff are ready to learn.

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