Edison’s Not the Only For Profit in the Township

I’ve got to bring a recent comment to the forefront so I can respond to it. I was going to just write up my own post in general, but this comment does a good job of vocalizing a seeming consensus of concerns about Edison. I’ll break-up my response below after each paragraph.

One of my issues with Edison is that it is a ‘for profit’ system. Someone, somewhere, is making money from this relationship. A profit motive is driving the the Edison value system. Edison needs growth to survive and that is why they sell local school systems on their ’superior’ education products. Williams was sold on the idea and Perry Township become another revenue stream for Edison. I don’t think the share holders of Edison (Nasdaq: EDSN) would be happy if Terry Stecz would say “we are a not-for-profit corporation”.

Do you think Edison is the only company making a profit off our children? Last time I checked, textbooks were the equivalent to highway robbery. What about all those big yellow buses? I believe Thomas or Blue Bird are making a pretty penny on every single one that’s cruising around the township multiple times a day. What about the food suppliers that feed our kids? What about the teachers themselves, what are they thinking actually trying to make money off of teaching our kids? With this line of reasoning, our football fields should be turned into gardens so we can grow our own food for lunch programs and revamp our shop programs to start building our own fleet of buses. Also, you should do more research on Edison, they are no longer a public company and no longer listed on NASDAQ.

I applaud the free enterprise system as competition excites innovation in product and service. However, free enterprise belongs in the private sector. Turning the management of public schools supported by public tax dollars to a private enterprise violates this principle.

Exactly what principle is violated? You didn’t mention one, so I’m guessing that you’re stating innovation only belongs in the private sector. I’ll totally disagree with that one, one of the reasons our entire national educational system is where it is today is because there as been a significant lack of innovation in our educational methods as a standard. Organizations like Edison, New Tech High and other charter school organizations are bringing much needed changes to education in America.

Since Edison is a private company and they manage Rosa Parks and Jeremiah Gray, those schools should be considered private schools and should be financially supported 100% by the parents with kids enrolled at those schools, not with the tax dollars collected from the parents who have kids in non Edison schools. How many parents would send their kids to an Edison school if they had to pay private school tuition in addition to their property taxes?

I would love to have the opportunity to not pay the portion of my taxes to the government that pays for public education. If I were allowed to make that choice and then invest that money in my kids education in the school I chose, I’d do it in a heart beat. I have a problem with my tax dollars being wasted on kids who have no interest in getting an education, but who are kept in standard classrooms to raise the graduation rates or for requirements of No Child Left Behind.

6 Responses to “Edison’s Not the Only For Profit in the Township”


  1. 1 We Support Adams Mar 9th, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Yes, you are correct, I should do more research on Edison. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

    Edison (formerly Nasdaq:ESDN), conceived in 1991 by Christopher Whittle of Channel One fame, first intended to offer educational services through their own brand of private schools but tossed out that idea due to financial difficulties and turned to creating partnerships with existing school systems offering a technology driven education method superior to what is offered in the public schools. Edison placed an IPO in 1999 despite widespread criticism of it’s finances, but only raised 109 million. In the four years Edison stock traded on the Nasdaq, it traded as high as $40, but fell to less then $1. Nasdaq took steps to delist the stock since the stock price was not supported by investors and could not trade over $1, but Edison was saved when it was bought out by private funds at $1.75 per share in late 2003. Currently, as a private company, Edison doesn’t report any financial statements and is believed to be operating in the red each quarter.

    I should update my stock ticker! One of the resources I referred to is at http://www.answers.com/topic/edison-schools-inc.

    Edison, at least in regard to their fiscal management, is not the sharpest tool in the shed and on shaky financial ground. They risk bankruptcy in the future, and as a private venture, they are not accountable to anyone. The buyout said loud and clear that Edison management was incapable of proper fiscal integrity. Even after the buy out, we don’t know what their financial condition is since they are not reporting. What will happen to Rosa Parks and Jeremiah Gray when Edison goes belly up?

    Unlike Edison, textbook publishers, buses and food suppliers provide products and services purchased to keep the school system “business” open for everyone. Edison, however, is “management” and provides their own methods to a select privileged few. They control the curriculum and how those kids are educated. If other vendors reap a profit by providing their service to the school system, that is acceptable because they provide a service so ALL the students can receive an education, not just a select few.

    It’s discriminatory to offer a “superior education” by Edison to only a select few students. Does Blue Bird manage the transportation system? Is there discrimination with bus service between schools? Do Homecroft kids get picked up in stretch limos whereas Winchester kids are picked up in the standard yellow buses and Perry North kids have to ride IndyGo? I believe the same buses are provided for ALL the students. Edison, however, is independent from the larger school system and provides their service to only a select few students.

    Perry Township parents and tax payers expect the same quality of education even though there are minor differences in style and practice between the schools. But Edison, as a free enterprise private venture, is publicized as being “superior”, “innovative”, “cutting edge”, “radically different”. This is the principle I referred to, the tax dollar support of “innovative” private schools masked as public schools. It violates the principle that the government provide its service across the entire population and not to a select few. I don’t agree with contracting private companies for public education even if they may have a “superior” method, because, as we see in Perry Township, only a few benefit from that relationship even though we all pay for it.

    If Edison has such a radical and new approach to education, it should be provided for all the students in Perry Township. Allocating public tax dollars to fund these private schools where only a few benefit while the rest of the township has to muddle along in their standard classrooms is certainly wrong. If you want a private and innovative education from Edison, then you should pay for it out of your own pocket.

  2. 2 Admin Mar 9th, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    We Support Adams, let me say a sincere thank you for your comment above and the information you shared. It is probably one of the best arguments someone has presented against Edison that I’ve heard from anyone.

    That does not change the fact that I disagree with you. I’m curious as to whether or not you feel the same way about New Tech High? I believe you’re missing the point that the things learned and tested in Edison schools are being spread to the other schools.

    I also am shocked that you seem to be against anything new, “superior”, “innovative”, “cutting edge” or “radically different” that may (and is proven to) work with our students. The recent ISTEP results from the first class of students that were brought up completely in the Edison program attest to that. I’ve personally heard comments from teachers at the other schools that say there’s a difference in the student that was taught with the Edison methods.

    I believe that Edison would still be considered a “test” in the township at this point. I believe this would be considered valid since we’ve only just now seen the first entire class come through the system. Because of this, as with any scientific testing environment, you always have the experimental group and the control groups for comparison.

    As your comment suggests, you don’t believe Edison is fiscally responsible based on their history and that they probably won’t be around for long. This should make you happy. Maybe you’ll be right, and eventually Jeremiah Gray-Edison and Rosa Parks-Edison will become “normal” again.

    As for your comment about paying for the Edison education my kids receive out of my own pocket. I ALREADY DO! I pay taxes and I believe my money is more well spent funding Edison to manage education on behalf of my kids than the federal government. Now if I could only get a rebate on the money spent in other schools that my kids will never attend.

  3. 3 Confused Mar 12th, 2007 at 8:52 am

    You missed the points and property taxes must not be your strong point.

  4. 4 Michael Taylor (not the teacher at SHS) Mar 12th, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    The first five years of Edison in MSD Perry Township was a good idea and worth the effort (especially with the Lilly grant subsidizing things). The renewal of the contract was a mistake. Edison’s track record across the country raises concern, but more analysis of achievement in MSD Perry should have been considered before a renewal.

    The strengths of Edison in our community are the MSD Perry Township teachers, families, administrators and teacher’s union. It is Edison that benefits from MSD Perry Township and not the other way around. I would love to have an open debate on this issue; however, due to the incompetence of the current school board majority and their Don Quixote supporters we are fighting windmills instead of focusing on improving the education of our children.

    I do applaud We Support Adams for putting together some information in regard to Edison from sources outside of the Gang of Four group.

  5. 5 Carla Koehl Mar 21st, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I realize I may be late in sending this email but feel after reading the comments need to. I have 4 children in msdpt. My oldest son was in “the other schools” and I loved it, as a matter of fact the school system is why we moved to perry, for our childrens education. My oldest son is also in the gifted program which I also love. My other children attend edison. Do I think that school is better,maybe not for everyone but my other children are not gifted and so for my younger children I am grateful our school system wanted to go the extra mile and extend to us the edison system. They take the time to learn what the children need to help them prosper in school. They also help the parents by letting us know what we can do to help our children. I really dont think my oldest son needed edison, but I do know that my other kids are doing great in school because of Edison and will support Edison because I have seen the difference in my children and for the person who commented about the lucky ones who were chosen I have to ask did you apply for edison and did you stay on the waiting list? Did you keep up with asking where your child was on the list because I did because I knew that it would be the best school for my children and yes I do consider my younger children lucky to be in the edison program but I also consider my oldest lucky be a student at the regular school. My point is each child is different and I appreciate Perry Township and Dr.Williams for providing choice schools so a parent can choose the right school for their children. When I asked Nancy Walsh where she stood on the edison school on election day she would not give me a clear answer stating she still was not sure, thankfully I chose not to vote for her because I thought she should have already done her research to have a decision only to find out that she already made up her mind but wasnt going to share that with me knowing my vote counts. We need people on the board who are there for our children us the taxpayers and the teachers and will be upfront and honest with us unfortunately we no longer have that.

  6. 6 A Couple of Questions Mar 27th, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    We Support Adams,

    As you are doing your research into the Edison schools look for answers to the following questions:

    1. How many of MSD Perry Township elementary schools now use Tungsten Benchmark data collection and testing program to better support their students?

    2. How many of MSD Perry Township elementary schools now use the scientifically proven math curriculum “Everyday Math” thanks to the connection made through Edison?

    If the answers to those questions bring some positive light to the Edison relationship, how smart does the administration of MSD Perry Township look for only paying for management of two schools when all eleven, at the very least, elementary schools are benefitting?

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