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December 1, 1994
Vol. 52
No. 4


Edison Project: “Accountability Is Our Cornerstone”

We at the Edison Project were pleased to describe our vision for school reform (“The Edison Project's Plan to Redefine Public Education,” September 1994). While we welcome debate about the merits of privatization, we want to correct four factual errors in other articles in your series.
First, Alex Molnar states that Channel One will air in all Edison Schools (“Education for Profit: A Yellow Brick Road to Nowhere”). This is not the case. Where Channel One is present in a district, we will include it; where it is not, we will not.
Second, Molnar states that neither EAI nor Edison is prepared for accountability that translates into “no results, no money.” In fact, our accountability system has four components: measures of students' achievement, measures of school quality, annual assessment of progress, and accountability for teachers and principals through rigorous performance appraisal. Our agreements typically stipulate that the district has the right to terminate its contract with us if we fall short of specified standards and goals.
Third, Walter Farrell and colleagues state that the founders of the Edison Project have all been white males (“Will Privatizing Schools Really Help Inner-City Students of Color?”). This will come as a surprise to Sylvia Peters, Nancy Hechinger, Dominique Browning, and Deborah McGriff. Our founding partners represent ethnic and gender diversity, as do the members of our marketing staff.
Finally, the authors state that our design does not emphasize a multicultural curriculum. Not true. Multicultural content pervades our curriculum and instructional standards.
—Benno C. Schmidt Jr., President and CEO, The Edison Project, New York, New York

AFT Challenges EAI's Facts

In response to David Bennett's articles on Education Alternatives, Inc. (“Entrepreneurship: The Road to Salvation for Public Schools”), please note that contrary to what is claimed, two years of test scores show that EAI has not improved students' achievement in its Baltimore schools. In fact, scores in EAI schools have gone down for two years in a row, while scores in other Baltimore schools have gone up. More tellingly, at South Pointe Elementary School in Miami Beach, EAI's showcase school, test scores are flat after three years.
The AFT report, “The Private Management of Public Schools in Baltimore,” finds that, again contrary to EAI's claim, EAI received substantially more money per pupil than other Baltimore schools. To earn its profit in Baltimore, EAI raised class size, dismantled remedial programs, and replaced school aides with interns hired through a temporary agency.
Because teacher unions are accused of bias, note that our report comes from research done by the Baltimore schools, not the AFT. There is no accountability for EAI in Baltimore. We have to wonder what will happen in Hartford, Connecticut, where the contract allows EAI to monitor itself.
—Donna Fowler, AFT Public Affairs Department, Washington, D.C.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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