The for-profit school manager in Philadelphia with the biggest contract, the longest tenure, and the most difficult mandate is also among the least scrutinized - Community Education Partners, which operates three schools in the city for disruptive youth.
Five years ago, the city and its schools were in turmoil over a proposal to turn over leadership of the school system and many of its schools to a for-profit company called Edison Schools Inc.
But out of discussions between city, state, and School District officials, a compromise reform plan emerged that took some of the heat off of Edison. At its core was what is now known as the “diverse provider model” of school management.
The School Reform Commission (SRC) has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts for educational services in the Philadelphia School District in the past five years that did not go through formal competitive bidding processes.
This practice is allowed by state law, and District officials say that it is often the best way of obtaining effective educational programs.