School Choice & Charters News in Brief

Whittle Aims to Open Private Schools With International Theme, Locations

December 18, 2007 1 min read
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Edison Schools Inc. founder Christopher Whittle hopes to convert a 35-acre property in suburban Washington into a private school to help jump-start his latest venture: a globe-spanning network of private schools.

Mr. Whittle and Benno C. Schmidt—the vice chairman of the board of the New York City-based for-profit manager of public schools—were in Bethesda, Md., this month to discuss the plans. The school and another in New York City would open in fall 2010 under the banner of Nations Academy, the new company the two are spearheading.

They aim to eventually start schools in 50 to 60 major cities from Shanghai and Paris to London and Los Angeles, Mr. Whittle said in a phone interview last week.

The mission “is to build the first global school,” he said.

The schools will seek authorization to use the International Baccalaureate program and will serve students ages 3 to 18, with a typical blend of 70 percent of students from the locality and 30 percent international, according to Mr. Whittle. Tuition would be similar to the “best schools in the city” where each is based, he said.

Nations Academy will offer guaranteed transferability from one campus to another, which Mr. Whittle argues will be a big attraction. “To give you an example, there are about 500,000 expatriates in Shanghai, and 100,000 move every year,” he said.

The schools, which will deliver instruction in English, will have a strong focus on global issues, fluency in foreign languages, and learning about different cultures. All students will be encouraged to spend time at campuses in various countries.

“By the time they graduate from high school,” Mr. Whittle said, “they would have spent time on four continents.”

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A version of this article appeared in the December 19, 2007 edition of Education Week

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