Edison to Take Lead Role to Help Run Philadelphia Schools

The commission overseeing a state takeover of the troubled Philadelphia school district voted Tuesday to give for-profit Edison Schools Inc. a prominent consulting role.

The selection of Edison comes over the bitter objections of a coalition of parent, union and antiprivatization groups, who said the company has a spotty educational record and hasn't demonstrated it can run a large urban district.

Gov. Mark Schweiker rejected those complaints and fought on behalf of Edison for months, describing the New York-based company as the best available hope for the nation's seventh-largest school district.

"We know there will be controversy, but there is never reform without controversy," said James Nevels, chairman of the commission.

Edison, the nation's largest private operator of public schools, and 11 other companies were named as management consultants. The district has 265 schools, more than 200,000 students and a budget of $1.7 billion.

Philadelphia Mayor John Street initially opposed the state takeover before agreeing in December to replace his appointed school board with the new School Reform Commission.