Maggie Gallagher
Does anybody on the San Francisco Board of Education actually care about educating kids?

Doesn't look like it, given the scathing, apparently politically motivated attack on Edison Schools Inc., a for-profit educational firm that now runs 113 schools in 45 states, many of them charter schools like the Edison Charter Academy in San Francisco. Parents from that school packed an auditorium this week begging the educational powers-that-be not to revoke Edison's city contract.

In its former incarnation as a government-run school, Thomas Edison Elementary was the kind of school that "parents fought to get out of," as one teacher told the San Francisco Chronicle. Now more than 80 percent of Edison's parents have signed a petition urging the city to keep Edison Inc. at the school's helm.

Edison specializes in taking over failing urban schools with sometimes spectacular results -- including, ironically, in San Francisco. According to The New York Times, since Edison took over running the school, the proportion of students scoring in the upper half nationally on math and reading tests has more than doubled, while the number in the lowest ranks has been cut by a third.

To Jill Wynns, president of the San Francisco Board of Ed, success is irrelevant. "Although we recognize that a number of parents are satisfied with the education their children are receiving at Edison," she told the crowd, "the fact is ..." that none of that matters to the board.

Critics charge racial discrimination (against blacks at this heavily Latino school) and say that explains Edison's rising test scores. (Is that racist, or what?) But even The New York Times says opponents "have failed to offer concrete evidence that Edison has forced out students to increase its test scores."

Educrats, in order to keep the schools and their money in government hands, play on parents' uneducated fears that the company's profits somehow come out of their children's interests. "I don't think for-profit companies have any place here," one mother of three children in San Francisco public schools (though not at an Edison school) told The Times. "In public schools there is never such a thing as leftover money."

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.