Privatization Lauded

Privatization of public schools is not a crude business maneuver, a consultant whose firm manages a public school system said last night at a forum titled "Private Management of Public Schools: A Good Idea? The Minneapolis Story."

Instead, privatization aims to shift school systems from a "bureaucratic" to a "service- oriented" approach, said Babak Armajani, the CEO of Public Strategies Group, the private for-profit firm hired in December to manage the Minneapolis schools.

The privatized system frees teachers from paper-work and allows them to focus on student performance, Armajani told about 200 Harvard graduate students and local school administrators gathered at the Graduate School of Education.

The system focuses on results, such as reducing staff turnover and improving student test scores, Armajani said.

That's why his firm will have to accomplish some of its goals before it makes any money, Armajani said at the panel, which was sponsored by the Harvard Forum on Schooling and Children.

"We don't get a nickel until we produce results. Our entire financial contract is linked to what changes we help to make in the schools," Armajani said.