A.F.T. Blasts E.A.I. Effort In Baltimore

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The American Federation of Teachers last week issued a report harshly criticizing the management of some Baltimore city schools by Education Alternatives Inc.

At a news conference at its Washington headquarters, the union accused the for-profit company of sacrificing children's educations for profit and announced that it had sent letters to the U.S. Education Department urging an investigation of the company's compliance with federal regulations governing compensatory- and special-education programs.

"E.A.I. promised a better education at the same per-pupil cost as the public schools, but they're not doing the job,'' said Greg Humphrey, the executive assistant to the A.F.T.'s president, Albert Shanker. "The bottom line,'' he said, "is that the bottom line is E.A.I.'s main concern.''

David A. Bennett, the president of E.A.I., last week dismissed the union's criticisms as "propaganda'' and said his company has complied with federal regulations.

The A.F.T.'s report and statements also drew a quick response from the Baltimore school system, which gathered much of the data the union used for its report.

A statement issued by the district accused officials of the A.F.T. and its affiliates of using "inaccurate information and manipulated data'' in an effort to paint a falsely negative picture of E.A.I.'s efforts in Baltimore and to prevent private firms from gaining public-school-management contracts elsewhere.

The A.F.T. report says that standardized-test scores in the eight public elementary schools run by E.A.I. in Baltimore "dropped substantially,'' and it blames the drop on various cost-cutting measures.

Officials of the company and the district contended, however, that the tests cited in the report were administered in March 1993--just half a year after the company took over the schools and before E.A.I. had a chance to have its program up and running.--PETER SCHMIDT

Vol. 13, Issue 28

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