Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The focus of this PBS Frontline documentary is Tennessee-born Chris Whittle, the colorful, controversial entrepreneur who created Edison Schools, a privately run educational organization that manages many of the nation's public schools. Never one to stand by and let fate take its course (as witnessed by his bold 1970s revitalization of the flagging Esquire magazine), the aggressive and often abrasive Whittle was dedicated to the proposition that education, as much as any other American industry, was capable of turning a healthy profit. His insistence that he has saved the public school system from a quagmire of failure and bureaucracy not surprisingly made Whittle thousands of enemies, many of whom eagerly awaited the day when he would fall on his face -- something that came perilous close to reality on several occasions, notably when Edison suffered a spectacular financial meltdown in the early 21st century. This documentary focuses on the events leading up to this catastrophe, when Whittle attempted to take over some 70 Philadelphia public schools within the space of a year. "Like it or not," noted one observer," Chris Whittle is the symbol of the school privatization movement, and Edison's fate will affect the entire movement."
business-management, controversial, education, entrepreneur, meltdown, power-struggle, privatization, profit, public-school, school-system, takeover