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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Education

photo of Louis GerstnerLouis V. Gerstner, Jr.

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Louis Gerstner, contributed a million of start up money and some office space to David Kearns' New American Schools. He has been CEO of RJR Nabisco, CEO and chair of IBM, and chair of the Carlyle Group. Like Kearnes, Gerstner is credited with turning IBM around through draconian restructuring.

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Gerstner is well connected in the corporate world. He had been on the board of directors of The New York Times, American Express, AT&T, Caterpillar, Bristol-Myers Squibb and various other corporations as well as a member of the advisory boards of DaimlerChrysler and Sony Corporation and a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Business Council.

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Gerstner founded and chaired the Teaching Commission “comprising 18 leaders in government, business, philanthropy, and education” – including Barbara Bush but only one teacher – to advise government on how to improve teaching quality in schools. It promoted merit-based pay for teachers based on their students’ performance on standardised tests.

Gerstner also co-chaired Achieve, an education reform advocacy group formed by state governors and business leaders, from 1996 to 2002.

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In recognition of his efforts on behalf of public education, as well as his business accomplishments, Mr. Gerstner was awarded the designation of honorary Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in June 2001.

Reinventing Education

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Gerstner. like Kearns, co-wrote a book with Denis Doyle – Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America's Public Schools. In it students were referred to as “human capital” and schools were urged to compare themselves with each other in the way that “Xerox compares itself to L.L.Bean for inventory control”.

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Reinventing Education was also the title Gerstner gave to an IBM's school reform project in which school districts in 21 states use IBM “technology and technical assistance to eliminate key barriers to school reform and improve student performance.” Reinventing Education has been introduced to other countries, including China. For example it runs in Victoria, Australia in partnership with the Department of Education and Training. Gerstner received a British knighthood in 2001 for his services to education.

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