Budget & Finance

Edison Makes Bid To Run Troubled Schools in N.Y.C., Pa.

By Robert C. Johnston — January 10, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In its most significant expansion efforts, the nation’s largest for-profit school-management firm is targeting academically troubled schools in two districts.

Edison Schools Inc., which runs 113 schools in 45 cities, was chosen from 14 finalists by New York City Schools Chancellor Harold O. Levy to manage five of the city’s lowest-performing schools. The company also is teaming up with local teachers’ unions in a bid to operate all 11 public schools in the Chester- Upland, Pa., system.

The New York City sites are among 57 academically deficient schools that form the Chancellor’s District, which is overseen by the chancellor and the board of education.

Mr. Levy said in a statement that he sought the proposals “to see what added value the private sector can bring to improve these schools. We owe it to the schools and the children to try.”

Receiving the chancellor’s blessing, however, was just the first step for the company in getting a potentially lucrative foothold into the 1.1 million- student district. The board of education must vote on the plan that would permit Edison to move into New York—an action that a majority of the city’s seven board members have publicly endorsed.

More difficult, perhaps, would be getting a majority of parents in each of the schools to approve converting the sites into independent public charter schools, as is required by state law before Edison can take over.

Mr. Levy hopes that the process will go smoothly this spring, and that the 5,000 students currently enrolled in those five schools will be attending spruced-up, Edison-run schools by the fall of 2001.

Ultimately, Edison also would have to negotiate labor contracts with the teachers in the schools.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the city’s affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, said the union will back whatever the parents decide, but is warning them to study the issue.

“If you have a marginal dollar, where does it get invested?” she asked of a privately run school. “Does it go to the shareholder’s pocket, or to kids’ supplies and getting the best teachers?”

Business Partners

In contrast, state and local affiliates of the National Education Association are asking the three- member, state-appointed board that controls the Chester-Upland district in Pennsylvania to turn over all 11 of its schools to Edison and the unions.

The 7,000-student district south of Philadelphia fell under state control this past summer as part of a new law that gives the state board enhanced powers to intervene in troubled districts.

As part of that process, a local group of school and community leaders drafted a school improvement plan that seeks private management of district schools.

Seeing the writing on the wall, union officials began searching for a partner who would run the schools with them. As one union official said, “Teachers were going to be in or out.”

In the end, the union officials and Edison settled on one another, they announced last month.

“We think this represents the best hope for the constant quality of education for the children of Chester-Upland,” said James P. Testerman, the treasurer for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

The proposal to run the schools in the Chester-Upland district, which has a $72 million budget, would be Edison’s second chance to manage an entire district. Last fall, Edison took over the schools in the 1,500-student Inkster, Mich., district.

A final decision is not expected in Chester-Upland until next month at the earliest.

The pending proposals underscore the opportunity for private firms to capitalize on state efforts to identify low-performing schools.

“You’ll see a lot of situations like these across the country,” said the Rev. Floyd H. Flake, the president of Edison’s charter school division. “Wherever you see massive failure, we’ll be interested.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2001 edition of Education Week as Edison Makes Bid To Run Troubled Schools in N.Y.C., Pa.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance Why Failing to Require Masks Could Cost Districts Millions Later
Some insurance providers are threatening to cancel districts' coverage this school year—particularly if they break statewide mask mandates.
9 min read
Image of a dial that assesses problems, dangers, risks, and liabilities.
iStock/Getty
Budget & Finance Will Teachers Get Vaccinated for $1,000?
More and more districts are offering cash to employees who get vaccinated, hoping that the money will help tamp down COVID-19 spread.
6 min read
Image of a dollar bill folded into an upward arrow.
ImagePixel/iStock/Getty
Budget & Finance Opinion Three Tips for Spending COVID-19 Funds in Evidence-Based Ways
If COVID-19 funds targeted for evidence-based practices are going to deliver, it's crucial to be clear on what evidence is actually helpful.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Budget & Finance How Kids Benefit When Principals Get a Say in Spending Federal COVID-19 Aid
In some districts, principals play a key role in targeting federal pandemic relief money, but in other places they're left out.
8 min read
Nicole Moore, the principal at Indian Mills School, stands near the summer literacy program held in a small lot at Fawn Lake Village in Shamong, New Jersey on July 6, 2021. Moore worked with teachers to develop a summer literacy program for disadvantaged students who live in the district.
Nicole Moore, principal of Indian Mills School, in Shamong, N.J., worked with a teacher and the district superintendent to start a summer program using federal aid for COVID-19 relief.
Eric Sucar for Education Week