PRIVATIZED LIVES

HARTFORD'S GRAND EXPERIMENT IN LETTING BUSINESS RUN THE SCHOOLS SENDS STOCK IN THIS IDEA PLUNGING

THE SALES PITCH WAS DAZZLING, THE promises irresistible. Dilapidated school buildings would be renovated, and fancy computer labs installed. Class size would go down, and test scores up. Less money would be spent on the bureaucracy, and more where it counted: on the students. And Hartford's public schools would maybe slowly raise themselves out of the gutter of the Connecticut school system. All this, and more, was hoped for last year when Education Alternatives, Inc. landed a five-year contract to run Hartford's entire 32-school district and its $200 million budget.

A few years ago, the concept of privatization--in which a for-profit...

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