DETROIT-Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley recently balked at an idea many have thought might be just the thing to help failing schools: Allow private, for-profit companies such as Edison Schools to try their hand at improving academic performance.

Although the district appears ready to outsource many services, its leaders have yet to embrace the idea of a private company running a school, despite the successes reported by Edison, in places such as nearby Inkster, where Edison runs the entire school district.

It had been suggested that for 13 schools in Detroit designated as "low-achieving" schools, a private company might be just what the doctor ordered. But in late March, Burnley put that idea on hold, opting instead to give the Detroit Federation of Teachers a chance to make good on its promise to improve these schools' performance with ideas of its own.