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More Than New Schools, a New System

ENTREPRENEUR Chris Whittle is launching a long-term effort to design a new education system.

Two years after introducing Channel One, the controversial high school news program that includes commercials, Mr. Whittle is turning his attention to the "Edison Project."

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Last week, Whittle announced a team of seven education experts, journalists, and business people who will create a blueprint for new schools.

The group includes Chester Finn, a former assistant secretary of education; John Chubb, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Lee Eisenberg, former editor-in-chief of Esquire; Dominique Browning, a former assistant managing editor for Newsweek; Nancy Hechinger, an expert in the field of interactive multimedia; and Sylvia Peters, a Chicago school principal.

The goal is to design schools that provide a better education than public schools do but use the same amount of money per student. The elementary and secondary schools will charge tuition, but 20 percent of all students will receive full scholarships.

In the fall of 1995, Whittle plans to open 200 "campuses" and expand to 1,000 campuses with an enrollment of 2 million students "soon after the turn of the century."

Opening the first 200 schools may cost as much as $2.5 billion, Whittle estimates. The for-profit company also plans to contract services for public and private schools.

The ambitious project is funded by Whittle Communications, Time Warner, Philips Electronics, and Associated Newspapers Holdings; it will involve no public funds.

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