Whittle, Chris 1948(?)–
Whittle, Chris 1948(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1948. Education: Attended the University of Tennessee.
ADDRESSES: Office—Edison Schools, 521 5th Ave., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10175.
CAREER: Media entrepreneur. Esquire, chairman and publisher, 1979–86; Whittle Communications, founder and chairman; Channel One, founder and chairman, 1991–94; Edison Schools, founder, 1992–.
Crash Course: Imagining a Better Future for Public Education, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Chris Whittle is a media entrepreneur and owned his own communications company, a magazine, and a television network all before he was forty years old. In the early 1990s, Whittle founded the Edison Schools, a for-profit school system for grades K-12, with the aim of improving the quality of public education. A few years later, however, two of Whittle's businesses failed, and he was forced to sell off all factions of his company, with the exception of the Edison Schools. Over a decade after its start, Whittle published his first book on the success of the schools, the largest private company managing public schools in the United States, titled Crash Course: Imagining a Better Future for Public Education. The book outlines his plans for radically reforming the national education system, which includes increasing the research and development budget from 260 million dollars to four billion dollars per year and doubling teachers' salaries after cutting their actual numbers in half, and allotting more independent study time for students during the school day.
William C. Symonds, writing in Business Week, commented that the book contained many "intriguing ideas." Although he felt that "few will agree with everything Whittle has to say … the book should stimulate bold thinking among readers and policymakers. In a Choice review, K.R. Kosar found that Whittle "tends to dismiss major impediments to his vision and makes the occasional sloppy argument." Noting Whittle's experience in media and education, a critic in Publishers Weekly concluded that Crash Course "is a cleverly-crafted sales pitch to the teachers' unions, congressional leaders, the President, and, finally, America's parents."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Business Week, October 17, 2005, William C. Symonds, review of Crash Course: Imagining a Better Future for Public Education, p. 124.
Choice, March, 2006, K.R. Kosar, review of Crash Course, p. 1278.
Education Next, winter, 2006, review of Crash Course, p. 78.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2005, review of Crash Course, p. 840.
Library Journal, September 1, 2005, Ari Sigal, review of Crash Course, p. 157.
Psychology Today, September-October, 1997, "The Education of Chris Whittle," interview, pp. 30-34.
Publishers Weekly, August 29, 2005, review of Crash Course, p. 54.
Edison Schools Web site, http://www.edisonschools.com/ (March 20, 2006), author profile.