Download audioEdison Schools in Michigan

Several years ago, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy put forward an idea that struck many as far-fetched: privatize school districts.

That's right - there are private companies that will come into a failing school district, take the money the state is providing through taxes, and do a better job of educating our children. One of those companies—the New York-based Edison Schools—already runs twenty-two schools in Michigan.

Edison, a for-profit company, is America's leading private manager of public and charter schools. It features a wide-ranging curriculum and a pervasive use of technology—including a computer on every teacher's desk and in the home of every student in grades three and above.

Edison can be fired for poor performance. This makes Edison schools accountable to parents in a way traditional public schools are not. Already there are three Edison schools in Battle Creek, five in Detroit, two in Ferndale, four in Flint, three in Lansing, four in Mt. Clemens, and two in Pontiac. In addition, the Inkster school district—with four schools in the Detroit metro area—recently agreed to sign up with Edison.

As Edison schools prosper, parents are starting to believe in real education reform.

For the Mackinac Center, I'm Catherine Martin.