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Hey, it couldn't hurt

Forty-two failing schools in Philadelphia will now be managed by Edison Schools, two universities, and four smaller private management companies. The New York Times calls this "privatization," but it's not, really -- it's subcontracting. It's not a trivial distinction; the schools are still public, funded with tax dollars. They're just run by private companies. Still, it's a step.

This was supposed to happen months ago, but opposition by the Philadelphia mayor, parents, and (who else?) the teacher's union stalled the decision; this happened only because the governor had the authority to push it through in spite of the mayor. The union was particularly upset:

After the meeting, Jerry Jordan, a vice president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said he regretted that the panel had said so little about how the schools would be redesigned by the outsiders.

"They didn't spell anything out," Mr. Jordan said. "It's like, `Let's see what works.' It shows a total lack of respect."

Yes, Mr. Jordan, it is like "Let's see what works." Imagine that. We know what doesn't work, and that's continuing with the existing approach, which has resulted in a "system in which more than half of the nearly 200,000 students had failed to achieve minimum proficiency on state reading and math tests." Why exactly should a union which has presided over that be "respected?"

And as further evidence that the schools desperately needed to be taken over:

After the roll was called, several dozen student protesters, who have long argued that it was undemocratic for a for-profit company to operate a public school, chanted, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and "I am not for sale!"
Undemocratic? Huh? Do they even know what the word means, or do they just think it's something that sounds bad?


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