May 17, 2008
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The School District of Philadelphia, in the summer of 2002, at the request of the State of Pennsylvania, asked for-profit and non-profit managers to participate in a substantial restructuring of its lowest-performing schools under the overall direction of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC). Thirty elementary and middle schools were contracted out to for-profit management organizations; 16 schools were contracted out to non-profit organizations. Another 21 schools were assigned to be restructured by a newly created Office of Restructured Schools (ORS), a special office within the school district itself. Sixteen schools (commonly called the “sweet sixteen”) were simply given additional fiscal resources.

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