Classroom Consciousness

| June 26, 2002

Classroom Consciousness

News about Edison schools has shaken out statistics, parent's concerns about corporatization and the quality of schools, and controversy about the company's financial management. But some very important voices have been left out of the debate: the students--until now. Alissa Quart in The Nation says that students are very aware of how Edison Schools Inc.'s corporate strategies will affect their education, and they are taking their own action.

Students say they are uncomfortable with Edison's 'corporate culture that considers young people, and young people of color in particular, just a demographic to be exploited for profit,' writes Quart. 'Second, they see it as the final stage of high schools' longstanding plan to increase policing of students, with measures like metal detectors and security guards. '

Philadelphia public school students in December staged a walk-out to demonstrate their disapproval of Edison. Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker was considering giving over the entire public school system's central administration--along with up to 60 individual schools--to Edison management.

However, a state panel in April voted instead to turn over management of only 20 city schools to corporate educator. Quart argues that student disapproval had much to do with the change of heart.

'While theirs has been only a partial victory, it is a victory nevertheless,' Quart writes, 'with some help from adults, a bunch of adolescents have managed to considerably diminish Edison's role in their future.'
--Julie Madsen
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