Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hot topic: Edison charter school

This from an SF K Files reader:
What is the story with the Edison Charter School? I hear very little about it and it was not reviewed on k files (that I can find). I know its a "chain" and the few things I've found have not been flattering. It doesn't have a local web site and the national site is pretty general. What can people tell me?


  1. Edison is a for-profit school program. The Edison school in San Francisco is chartered through the state, as SFUSD declined to start it.

    I am sure that the San Francisco Edison school has many hardworking teachers, dedicated parents, and fantastic kids.

    However, Edison's claims of success and achievement are contested, several Edison schools and Edison partnerships have ended ruinously, and Edison has proposed some very problematic ways to make money off education - like having children take on clerical and cleaning work.

    The book The Edison Schools: Corporate Schooling and the Assault on Public Education is obviously strongly anti-Edison, but has a great deal of information about Edison, its history and its schools. The book is a bit dated, but it has a large section on Edison's coming to San Francisco.

  2. Such a great location and building. As the district seems to be expanding--and needs space for good schools on the east side of town--I would love to see SFUSD get the building back for use.

  3. We live close by and toured Edison this year.  The building is great, as the previous post said.  The teachers seemed to have the kids' attention in most of the classrooms. I would say that the teachers seemed young and perhaps a little green, but also pretty energetic.  They do monthly testing, supposedly to measure progress, but it made me worry about teaching to the test.  Scores last year were in the high 700s for kids who are a high percentage reduced or free lunch.  The kids come from all over the bay area, so it may be hard to build community.  There is no PTA, for example (and so no extra money).  I would be ecstatic to have another with sfusd school in our neighborhood .

  4. I also live in the neighborhood, but did not tour Edison. I was unable to get any information on the program via the web and I decided not to bother touring. If SFUSD has the opportunity to take back the campus, I'm sure it would be instantly popular (like DeAvila) given its central location.

  5. Why can't the district make Edison move the way it is always moving Creative Arts Charter?

  6. I read these posts with interest, as the Edison Schools controversy of 2000-02 is where I cut my teeth as a public-education activist. Others have a good handle on the situation, so I haven't posted previously.

    The answer to 8:26 is basically that Edison Charter Academy is not an SFUSD-chartered school, though it used to be. It's now a rent-paying tenant in an SFUSD property; it's chartered by the California state Board of Education. I don't know the ins and outs of the Edison Schools Inc. real estate transaction with SFUSD, but New York-based Edison Schools is a highly litigious operation. I'm sure there are posters here with expertise in real estate law who have a clear picture of how that plays out.

  7. I toured the place last year and wanted to like it (we so much wanted to send our kids to a small K through 8 and that's what Edison was), but I have to say the place was a big disappointment. Yes, the teachers had the classrooms under control, but the place felt almost like a big prison, with no artwork on the walls or anything else. As an earlier poster mentioned, it seemed they were very focused on testing. I was particularly worried when they showed me one classroom and then whispered to me that "this is where the slow kids are" -- they acted like the kids needing extra help were undesirables to my mind. Also, as mentioned before, there's no PTA and no sense of a community feeling.

  8. SFUSD is opening another new school this year - Cobb Montessori moving to pacific heights. Heard this on NPR this morning.

  9. Follow the money. As long as Edison keeps paying top dollar for that fabulous site they're keeping it.

  10. I toured Edison several years ago, and it was our backup school. I made my way there because a good friend of mine taught there. She still teaches in the Edison system, but now in Denver, Colorado. She was as San Franciscan as you can get, and she loved and praised it.

    During my visit, I met the kinder instructors who were kind and intelligent. I also met several other teachers who were experienced and strongly encouraged me to apply. We did and were immediately accepted, no lottery, no issue, no nothing. First come, first served. It was frankly a relief to have it as a back up. Also, it was 100% free, no tuition, all covered by the state and SFUSD.

    The children there appeared to me to happy and polite, and looked nice in their uniforms. The kinder classrooms were frankly stunning with 20+ foot ceilings and windows spanning the height of the walls.

    I understand there was a big controversy in SF and that advocates for public schools wanted this Charter shut down. I don't really know the details, but I did learn that it was the parents of the children who were enrolled who fought to preserve the school's presence in San Francisco.

    I love my daughter's public school and I am a proud member of PPSSF. However, I do think that there is no harm in giving parents options. From my brief experience with this school, it appeared to me to be pulling its weight.

    I would love for you to hear from a parent who sends their child there instead of from those who have a political interest in stopping for profit charters in San Francisco.

    Good luck.

  11. Here's some quick background that doesn't particularly have any bearing on an assessment of Edison Charter Academy today, but just for information:

    Issues with Edison schools nationwide in their heyday included the fact that they cost their client districts more money than Edison had promised, for complex reasons, and that districts complained that Edison was dumping its more-challenging students into district schools, after having sold itself as a solution to take on challenging students and improve their achievement. And its schools overall performed far more poorly than Edison had promised in its sales pitch. Also, Edison used the odd tactic of issuing press releases bashing its client districts and touting itself as superior -- not a great strategy for a vendor trying to work harmoniously with its clients. So you can see why, given all that, Edison's client districts would be widely dissatisfied with it and why it has been kicked out by the vast majority of its client districts.

  12. To 4:39 pm -- I resent your suggestion that the people above who gave negative views touring Edison have a "political interest" in stopping such schools. I have no such political interest. I went to Edison, as I noted above, desperate for a small school K through 8 alernative in the city. I was really hoping to like it. And frankly it was really bad. Prisonlike, with teachers who seemed dismissive of kids who needed extra help, and no PTA or other parental support structure to speak of. I have toured many schools private, charter and public in this city over the past six years. It was hands-down the creepiest school I ever toured. rankly, it is just wasting space from my perspective -- ain't nothing going on in that place but the rent.

  13. "Edison was dumping its more-challenging students into district schools, after having sold itself as a solution to take on challenging students"

    That's fairly typical of all charter schools.

  14. Here is a good link to an interesting article on Edison:


    All of these postings on this thread are specific to the ECA under the management of Edison Learning. Up to date information on (Thomas) Edison Charter Academy can be read on the other strands.

  16. Edison Charter is now a city charter school. We toured it last year and were discouraged by the amount of students that lived outside of the city. I believe it was as high as 70%. No more.

    We signed up as a last resort, a placeholder in hopes that an acceptable pick from the SFUSD lottery would happen. Nope.

    Now I feel so lucky to have our son in kinder there. The teachers are top notch, we got into the Spanish Imersion program, the building was just remodeled, class size is 20 students, after care, lunch by Revolution Foods instead of delivered frozen from out of state...

    I am a happy parent.