School Choice & Charters

Charter Schools News Roundup

By Darcia Harris Bowman — February 14, 2001 2 min read
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Under Fire: The San Francisco school board is poised to give Edison Schools Inc. the boot.

Board President Jill Wynns has been an outspoken opponent of for-profit school management since Edison took over an elementary school in the district’s Noe Valley area in 1998. In the minority on the board then, she now says she has enough votes to revoke Edison’s charter and hopes to do so in time to return the school to district management for the next school year.

“We have been really concerned about the things going on over there,” Ms. Wynns said of the Edison Charter Academy. “The process by which this charter was granted was manipulated, probably corrupt, and questionable at every turn.”

Edison officials, meanwhile, maintain that students at the school have flourished under the company’s management, and that test scores have increased. The company announced last fall that the San Francisco charter school ranked third among the district’s 71 schools on standardized-test scores.

“The school had done incredibly well,” said Gaynor McCown, a spokeswoman for the New York City-based company. “This is pure politics, and it has nothing to do with children.”

Edison’s tenure at the school has not been without problems, however. Last spring, a majority of the school’s teachers asked the school board to intervene in negotiations with the company over working conditions. They threatened to quit if their hours and pay did not improve; despite some changes, many did not return this school year.

Ms. Wynns also argued that the company’s contract is unfair because Edison doesn’t pay rent on the school building it uses or fees for busing and food programs, among other services provided by the district.

A resolution to revoke Edison’s charter was slated to be introduced at the board’s Feb. 13 meeting and referred to a subcommittee for consideration.

Grand Slam: It seems everyone is in the business of charter schools these days.

Case in point: A ground- breaking ceremony was held last week for a planned $4.1 million Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Los Vegas. The school is intended to help reduce the skyrocketing dropout rate in the tennis star’s hometown district.

“Education is the groundwork for success, and living up to your potential may often just be a matter of what opportunities are available to you,” Mr. Agassi said in a statement.

The school will open in the fall for grades 3-5 and is to expand to grades 6-12 in the next seven years.

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A version of this article appeared in the February 14, 2001 edition of Education Week

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