NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

San Francisco To Boot Out Successful Edison School

January 17, 2001

A narrow majority of San Francisco's newly-elected school board is "philosophically opposed to for-profit management" of a public school there. So it intends to boot for-profit Edison Schools out of the city.

Three years ago, the board signed a five-year contract with Edison to run one school there -- coincidently named Edison. The company manages 113 schools in a dozen states with 53,000 students.

No one contends Edison hasn't done a fine job -- even though it does want to make money.

  • Last fall, 49 percent of fifth graders at Edison scored at the national average or better in math, compared with 28 percent the year before.
  • In reading, 35 percent of fifth graders performed at national levels -- compared to just 2 percent before the for-profit firm took over.
  • In all, Edison has the third most improved showing on statewide tests of all of San Francisco's 71 schools.
  • Nevertheless, incoming school board president Jill Wynns wants to revoke the remaining two years on Edison's contract because Edison "has been a destructive force, shattering our sense of community."

If Edison is forced to leave the city, education reformers predict, it will embolden teachers' unions and other opponents of its planned entry into New York City schools. Last month the board of education there endorsed a proposal to allow Edison Schools to manage five of the city's worst schools if it could convince a majority of parents in each to go along.

Source: Editorial, "San Francisco Flunks," Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2001.

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