Trouble for School Inc.

Edison gets scolded for dubious math and weak grades. Can it improve?

Wendy Walsh's seventh-graders at Gillespie Middle School in North Philadelphia have something in common with investors in the for-profit education company Edison Schools. Both fear that Edison, the nation's largest private operator of public schools, may be failing them. "The children ask me what's going on," Walsh says, "and I don't know what to tell them. We're all facing the great unknown."

In its most ambitious project to date, Edison is scheduled to take over Gillespie and 19 other schools in Philadelphia this fall. But just as the company's initial meetings with teachers began there last week, Edison was absorbing blows...

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