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Topic: Private company hired for teaching
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,291
Registered: 12/3/04
Private company hired for teaching
Posted: Mar 24, 1999 9:10 PM
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From Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, IL, March 24, 1999, P. 5A.

Private company hired for teaching in Peoria (IL) schools

PEORIA (AP) - Rhonda Hunt knew school boards across the state would be
watching as she cast her vote for a contract allowing a private company to
manage teaching in two schools in Peoria District 150.

It was the first time in Illinois that a for-profit corporation was hired
to take over instruction in a public school.

"I want other parts of Illinois to see the progressive efforts here in
Peoria," Hunt said before the Peoria school board approved the contracts
Monday.

The Edison Project is now on track to take over the curriculum, teacher
training and teacher management for Franklin and Northmoor elementary
schools in Peoria.

The Edison Project began in 1994 with contracts to handle instruction in
four schools. Since then, it has grown to 51 schools with more than 24,000
students in 12 states.

The company promises it can raise standardized test scores - long held as a
tool to assess how schools are doing - with a curriculum heavily based on
university research, including the Johns Hopkins reading program and the
University of Chicago math program.

The Edison Project also claims it can raise those test scores without
costing districts any more than what is already spent on classroom
instruction. At the Peoria schools, that's roughly $4,500 a student
annually. Each school currently has about 500 students.

The proposal of hiring The Edison Project raised a heated debate in Peoria.
Parents at the Northmoor school, an elementary school in an affluent
neighborhood, said they didn't want their children subjected to an
experiment. They argued The Edison Project's four-year history isn't a
proven track record.

Parents also objected to the longer school year and longer school day
offered by Edison -- although Vincent Wieland, school board president,
warned that state and federal efforts are already working to keep students
in school longer.

*********************************************
*
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu



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