Education Letter to the Editor

Edison Schools Debate Masks Real Solutions

November 01, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor: Regarding (“Analysis Finds Gains in Edison Schools, But Model Is No Quick Fix,” Oct. 19, 2005):

Everyone would agree there is a tale of two Edisons. In Phoenixville, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, Edison Schools Inc. operates the Renaissance Academy, a charter school. Seventy percent of its students score at or above proficient on state tests. In Philadelphia, Edison, free of union contracts and district supervision, operates Marianna Bracetti Academy. Its test scores are below 20 percent proficient.

Obviously, Edison is not the difference.

Ninety percent of the difference between the two Edison-operated schools is no doubt due to parental influence. We’ve known this since the Coleman Report of the 1960s. We need policies that reward parents for their involvement.

Enter, individual college accounts. Under this plan, when a child is born, $3,000 is placed in an ICA. The ICA works as a 401(k) or 403(b), maturing over time. When the child enters 1st grade, the parents receive $1,000, provided their child is reading-ready. A percentage of the matured funds, based on academic achievement and parental involvement, is sent to the college of the student’s choice upon graduation from high school.

Evidence suggests that this plan will lower remedial education costs, reduce the number of children diagnosed, tested, and placed in special education, and diminish crime. All of these benefits point to a safer, more productive, and less costly environment for our families to live in. Best of all, we’ll know definitively if it works or not.

Currently, my school district spends $1,500 per child per year, year after year, to retain Edison. Clearly, an ICA plan would be less expensive.

Keith Newman

Philadelphia, Pa.

A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2005 edition of Education Week as Edison Schools Debate Masks Real Solutions