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Class ClownsHow the Smartest Investors Lost Billions in Education$
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Jonathan A. Knee

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231179287

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231179287.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 10 May 2021

The Wizard of Ed

The Wizard of Ed

(p.15) Chapter One The Wizard of Ed
Class Clowns

Jonathan A. Knee

Columbia University Press

The IPO of Edison Schools in 1999 was the culmination of building optimism about the potential to transform public education for the better. Edison represented the powerful proposition that a private company could deliver better public schools for less money, leaving taxpayers, investors and children better off. The messianic force behind Edison was Chris Whittle. It failed spectacularly as did widely publicized ventures before and since. The story of Whittle’s ability to continue to raise money from sophisticated individual, institutional and corporate investors over more than twenty years to pursue his educational vision is remarkable on many levels. Following the twenty year trail of unhappy investors in Whittle’s various educational efforts reveals much about K-12 business models and the suspension of disbelief in educational matters by the otherwise sophisticated.

Keywords:   Edison Schools, Public education, Private education, Chris Whittle

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