Chris Whittle is a real danger to public education. It would be easy to dismiss him, since so many of his ventures fail, but he has a genius for staying afloat. As Jim Horn writes in his review of Whittle’s new book, Crash Course: Envisioning a Better Future for Public Education, Whittle’s frequently-failing Edison Schools Inc. survived its own stock crash in 2002 thanks to a bailout by the Florida state pension fund engineered by Gov. Jeb Bush.
Whittle has continued to sell his Edison private-management company to large public school systems that should know better, including Philadelphia and Baltimore. He was soundly defeated by parents and teachers in NYC’s District 5 a few years back when he offered to manage schools in Harlem, but now Chancellor Klein appears enamoured of him.
Here’s part of what Horn has to say:
“Whittle attempts to sculpt a vision for a hybrid American school, a new alternative to the “public school monopoly” that conservatives have railed against for the past 25 years. In this bravado new world of educational corporate welfare that Whittle projects out to the year 2030, the public school will remain public, in that public dollars pay the bills for personnel, transportation, food service, maintenance, and, of course, the contracting fee to Edison, Inc. or its MacSchool counterparts—yet private, in that education corporations organize, manage, hire principals who hire teachers, consult, assess, make merit pay recommendations based on those assessments, and, of course, get paid with public dollars that, in turn, make a 10% profit for the shareholders for the company. If this doesn’t sound good enough to get you to spend the $25 for this kind of visionary thinking, then add to this emerging educational utopia the need to increase class size, severely reduce the number of teachers, turn students into part-time clerical workers; and I am sure that you will agree that Whittle’s book will be required reading, at least by every reform industry lobbyist on K Street who is sure to get goose bumps at Whittles’ recurring focus on the 400 billion dollars that Americans spend on K-12 education every year.”
Thanks to the Public Education Network‘s “Weekly NewsBlast” for calling attention to this. They publish on Fridays–summaries and links to interesting education stories–and there are always gems in their mix. You can subscribe yourself on their left toolbar.