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Op-Ed Fri Aug 03 2012

Corporate Reform is the Bain of Public Education

This op-ed was submitted by Kenzo Shibata

Bain Capital has received a lot of negative press lately from President Barack Obama's reelection campaign as it's the corporation once run by current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

As it turns out Romney made a killing from his time as CEO of Bain, but he was far from a job creator. Through his work thousands of people lost their jobs. The corporation uses a "Corporate Reform" model that looks a lot like the current model being used by billionaire-backed Astroturf groups claiming it will fix schools.

 Bain's a private equity firm that specialized in "leveraged buyouts." According to

Leveraged buyouts, which are what private equity firms do, load companies with debt, extract value for middlemen, and displace workers.

The company profits off of lowering the standard of living for workers It cuts middle-class jobs and funnels wealth upwards, much like the way education is being done in Chicago.

In Chicago, during a claimed fiscal crisis the Chicago Board of Education hired more middle management at six figure salaries fired large swaths of experienced and therefore pricy labor, replaced them with neophytes who stay on the job just long enough to be utterly burned out. This may be a way to make unscrupulous stockholders happy, but it's no way to run a school system.

One instance where the connection was crystal clear was a school run under Bain outside of Salt Lake City, Utah where students died due to cuts to services.

This is not a coincidence; companies like Corporate Reformer Bain Capital have a shared ideology with Corporate Education Reformers like Stand for Children. One might ask why a Corporate Reform model would be employed in public policy. Well, most of the policy proposals Stand For Children supports are lifted right out of the ALEC playbook.

ALEC, is of course the American Legislative Exchange Commission, which is described as a "collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators." Bain itself was so impressed with the parallel approach to corporate education reform that it gave $1 million dollars to Stand for Children in Massachusetts

That $1 million in revenue could have been used to maybe lay off less teachers but instead it was used to fund an organization whose goal is to further destabilize the schools in America. What's the end game of Bain, and for that matter Stand for Children? They are creating a race to the bottom. They want a steady supply of new teaching recruits each year who get paid peanuts and are too afraid to speak up for themselves and the children they serve.

This is not how we give America's children the schools they deserve.

Kenzo Shibata is an educator and staffer at the Chicago Teachers Union.

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