Magazine article District Administration

The Battle to Control Philadelphia's Schools. (News Connection: Up-to-Date and Usable Education Information from Schools, Government, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)

Magazine article District Administration

The Battle to Control Philadelphia's Schools. (News Connection: Up-to-Date and Usable Education Information from Schools, Government, Business, Research and Professional Organizations)

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania's Gov. Mark Schweiker was barely one month into his new job when he was engrossed in a battle with Mayor John Street over control of Philadelphia's public schools. The governor's sweeping reform of the district calls for private companies to manage 60 of the poorest performing schools in the 264-school district. A lead provider would be contracted to manage 45 of the 60 failing schools, and be tapped to invest $75 million in the books, materials, technology and professional development in those schools.

Schweiker paid Edison Schools $2.7 million to study the district and to make recommendations. Edison made some startling observations. Its report claims that 80 percent of the district's students score below proficient in reading and math. The current budget deficit is in danger of ballooning from $216 million to $1.2 billion during the next five years, it added.

Edison's answer for Philadelphia is major reform.

Initial recommendations call for the 55 top management positions in the school district be turned over to a private company. Sixty of the district's poorest performing schools should also come under private management; 45 of these schools going to one lead provider. The private education company also suggests in its report that it could provide the services needed to improve the schools.

At this, the critics balked. Mayor Street has fought from the beginning to keep control of the Philadelphia school district. …

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