Monday, December 28, 2009

A Question for Dennis Bakke

"I spent 20 years telling Wall Street that profit is not God, and now I'll probably spend 20 years in education telling people that it's not Satan, either." - Imagine Schools CEO Dennis Bakke, Interview with the Washington Business Journal, 9/9/2005
Dennis Bakke - he's quite the character. The above quote, taken from a September 2005 interview, is puzzling considering the Imagine Schools claim to be a non-profit: the "about us" section of their website claims the group "initiated a process to replace the business entity Imagine Schools, Inc. with the new nonprofit as the operator of public charter schools nationwide." When did this happen? The website claims this began in August of 2005. So he started to convert to a nonprofit, then spoke up about the non-evils of for-profit education. I'm scratching my head - and it's not 'cause my scalp is feeling itchy.

Dennis' claim that profits aren't God should be taken with a major heaping of salt - this is the same guy that pushed for major energy deregulation and forged partnerships with authoritarian regimes like the one in Uganda, which netted his energy company a $500 million contract (AES is one of the largest independent energy company in the world - but it's not about your $16.1 billion in revenue, right?). And, in a case that could match the potential unraveling of Imagine's for-profit chain, some notes from a City Council meeting in Peoria, IL show that one council member had this to say about a company owned by Bakke's AES Corp.:

...citizens were demanding him [Bakke] to be true to his own words by leaving a legacy to this community by letting local citizens and investors regain control of its energy future. He added that only local control would be acceptable.

Mr. Bakke has been involved with "The Family," a fundamentalist group comprised of high-ranking politicians and businesspeople (yes, the ones in the C-street house that recently lost their tax-exempt status; Bart Stupak is part of this group, too). If you're interested in further reading, check out Jeff Sharlet's The Family for a truly horrifying piece of investigative work. One can only wonder how long Mr. Bakke's charter school scam can go on - more on the Imagine Schools sure to come...

So here's my question for Mr. Bakke: what's the real deal here? I somehow find it hard to believe you're the CEO of a non-profit CMO while claiming for-profit education isn't a Satanic idea...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:38 PM

    Mr. Bakke is the king of double speak and most people that talk the way he does are only a few steps ahead of the law.

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