In the education field, no other company has piqued both ire and interest of the public like Edison. Banking on the taxpayers' disappointment in public education, the country's largest for-profit operator of public schools has grown from running about 80 schools two years ago to possibly more than 140 when the 2001-2002 school year starts this fall.
Founded in 1992 as the Edison Project by Chris Whittle, the company spent three years of intensive research and development to design innovative schools that could operate at public school spending levels. Edison opened its first four schools in August 1995 and has grown rapidly in every subsequent year.
At the close of the 2000-2001 school year, Edison operated 113 schools in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Schools managed included many charter schools, which Edison operates under management contracts with local school districts and charter school boards.
In 2001, it will add schools in Indiana and Nevada to its roster, as well as additional schools in existing client states. More than 57,000 students currently attend Edison partnership schools.
Edison does not turn a school into a private institution. The school remains part of a public district and operates on traditional tax funding. Edison takes over by implementing the educational program, technology plans, and management systems, and is accountable to a local authority for the performance of the school. Edison schools remain public schools, open to all students and funded with tax dollars.