This story about the woes of Edison Schools is so bizarre I wondered at first about its authenticity.
Edison is a publicly traded school-management company that has contracts to run 150 public schools in 23 states. According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, “Days before classes were to begin in September, trucks arrived to take away most of the textbooks, computers, lab supplies and musical instruments the company had provided — Edison had to sell them off for cash. Many students were left with decades-old books and no equipment. A few weeks later, some of the company’s executives moved into offices inside the schools so Edison could avoid paying the $8,750 monthly rent on its Philadelphia headquarters. They stayed only a few days, until the school board ordered them out. As a final humiliation, Chris Whittle, the company’s charismatic chief executive and founder, recently told a meeting of school principals that he’d thought up an ingenious solution to the company’s financial woes: Take advantage of the free supply of child labor, and force each student to work an hour a day, presumably without pay, in the school offices.”
Aha. If it’s Chris Whittle, then it must be true. His ventures, ranging from advertising-led publications in doctors’ waiting rooms to the Channel One “news” service for high schools, have always run more on hype and so-called high concept than real achievement.
Tim Garton Ash has a modest proposal in today’s Guardian: “If Britain really wants to catalyse the formation of a democratic Europe with a common language, we have to leave the EU… Let us, like Roman heroes of old, fall on our sword for the greater good.” Then, his argument goes, there will be no barrier to the rest of Europe agreeing that English should be the lingua franca of the Union.