The noise level is lower at School District headquarters this spring, but the political struggles over private management of schools continue.
Despite the departure of the Ridge/Schweiker team from Harrisburg, there is still strong support among influential state legislators and on the School Reform Commission to extend the experiment in privatized school management that was started last year.
On December 23, 2001, Philadelphians awoke to the startling news that their schools were now -- as the Philadelphia Inquirer put it -- "the property and problem of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
The transfer of control, which was reported to have occurred at precisely 12:01 a.m., seemed to plunge the city's children into uncertainty. "We're in [Governor] Schweiker's hands now," a Daily News columnist wrote, with evident apprehension.
Philadelphia's reform plan that overhauled the management of 70 schools has been described as an historic experiment. Amid public outcry, private companies and nonprofits were brought in to manage some schools, while others were converted to charter schools or restructured under District management.
Now, as Year One of the reform draws to a close, many wonder whether the sweeping changes have translated into better student performance, and how the School District is measuring improvement.