After three years of research and development to design "models" that could operate at public school spending levels, Edison opened its first four schools in August 1995 and has since grown rapidly.
The company operates under management contracts with local school districts and charter school boards and has a central office staff of nearly 400, mostly based in New York. After signing a contract with the Philadelphia School District in July 2002 to run 20 of its schools, the company opened a small office there in late 2002.
In its curriculum, the company uses "Success for All," a reading program developed by Johns Hopkins University, and the "Everyday Mathematics" program from the University of Chicago. Edison says its "rich and challenging curriculum" includes 90 minutes of daily reading, and the company also emphasizes hands-on science and a project-based approach to social studies. Foreign language instruction begins in kindergarten. Edison schools typically have a longer school day and year.
Edison began publicly trading its stock in November 1999.
The Miami-based organization serves about 19,000 students in 81 schools across eight states and Washington, D.C., with the majority located in Florida and Michigan. Most of its schools are charter-based and most are elementary or middle schools. In Philadelphia, Chancellor Beacon runs three elementary and two middle schools.
"In this industry, we don't pretend our goal is to be the absolute largest," Visiedo told Education Week. "But you do have to have a certain scale to service your schools appropriately."
Beacon is different from some other for-profit educational firms in
that it uses its own curriculum, rather than borrowing programs from
others. Their school design model is research-based and places strong
emphasis on classroom projects.