PBS looks at for-profit Edison schools

Can investors get rich running public schools? Will for-profit schools shortchange students or jump-start educational systems with healthy competition? The "Frontline" documentary "Public Schools, Inc." (8 p.m., PBS) examines controversial efforts to privatize public schools, and the super salesman who has staked his reputation and several fortunes on the idea.

"Frontline" traces would-be school tycoon Chris Whittle's rise from his native Knoxville in the 1970s, where he earned a reputation for being innovative, wildly successful and cool at the same time.

"Frontline" looks at Edison's successes in Wichita, Kan., and the resistance it ran into in Philadelphia. Whittle's revolutionary concepts did not sit well with teachers unions, some parents and many politicians. Sensing trouble, many of Whittle's Wall Street angels began to back off. Before long, Edison's stock, which had traded as high as $38, fell to just 14 cents. If Edison falls apart, Whittle promises to "do it all over again."

You don't have to wait until the Fourth to take a "Fireworks Road Trip" (8 p.m., Travel Channel). The pyrotechnics tour travels from Boston's Charles River to the pyro-musical competition at Montreal's La Ronde Amusement Park and the world's splashiest competition in San Remo, Italy.

Denzel Washington was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his 1999 portrayal of a wrongly imprisoned boxer in "The Hurricane" (7 p.m., Fox).

Tonight's other highlights

  • Suburban detachment proves deadly in the 2000 drama "The Virgin Suicides" (6 p.m., Lifetime), starring Kirsten Dunst and directed by Sofia Coppola.
  • A bookstore owner (Kate Capshaw) discovers an anonymous missive that sets her heart pounding and excites the passions of a small seaside town in the 1999 romance "The Love Letter" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Lorraine Bracco and John McEnroe appear on the third-season finale of "Primetime Glick" (7 p.m., Comedy Central).
  • Scheduled on "PrimeTime" (9 p.m., ABC): Mountain climbers meet an unhappy fate in Alaska.

Late night

Sean Hayes, Eric Ripert and Avril Lavigne on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Lisa Marie Presley, Abby Julo and Jarod Miller on "The Tonight Show" (10:50 p.m., NBC).

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