kids, but it is a corporate school blueprint being promoted and put in place
all over America, for the sake of private profit.
In fact, when the "Opportunity Schools" brief was
released in December 2011, Public Impact had hammered out another report for
the Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust)
on "incubating" charter schools in Texas, New Orleans, Rhode Island,
Minnesota, Delaware, Colorado, and Tennessee. Founded and led by the Mind
Trust, the CEE-Trust is active in 15 cities, including Philadelphia where a corporate takeover
takeoverof public education is well underway with the help of Bill
Gates and other wealthy power-players.
Entitled "Better Choices: Charter Incubation as a Strategy for Improving the Charter School Sector
Choices: Charter Incubation as a Strategy for Improving the Charter School
Sector,"this nationally geared Public Impact
report (like the Indianapolis plan) is a boilerplate presentation to shovel
state, city, and federal money to private companies, decentralize central
school offices, loosen teacher and principal certification for more Teach for
America, Teach Plus, and New Teacher Project temporary recruits, and give more "autonomy"
to charter schools.
Those who study the corporate school movement realize that "autonomy"
is merely a code word for letting charter school leaders do anything they
desire to collect a hefty profit.
Likewise, as I detailed recently at Bloomington's Common Errant
Errant, Bart Peterson's charter school accountability agenda always takes
into consideration whether or not he knows the so-called "entrepreneurs"
Case in point is the then-mayor Peterson-approved Challenge
Foundation Academy Indy, whose board includes two members of Strategic Capital
Partners, a national real estate and investment firm Peterson worked for after
he lost his re-election bid. The charter school is operated and
funded by the Challenge Foundation, an anti-climate change promoter and
libertarian outfit started in Texas in 1989, which has lavished millions of
dollars to over 182 charter schools across the U.S. and is led by Georgia Gulf
Corporation's John D. Bryan, a heavy Scott Walker donor
Walker donorand Koch Brothers acquaintance.
In a State Board of Accounts audit covering 2005-2007, investigators found several red
flags concerning Challenge Foundation Academy Indy. First off, none of the
applications for free and reduced school lunches were verified, the report of
average daily membership at the school was turned in late, and from October
2006 to May 2007, payments made to Fifth Third Bank "were not supported by
original bills or invoices." Even worse, auditors found that payments "were
made to employees that were not included in the payroll system or on a salary
schedule or contract" and that payroll taxes "were not properly
withheld or remitted."
In what looks like a scratch-your-back-moment, in 2008 the
Challenge Foundation handed Peterson's Mind Trust $486,400 to
support its education fellowships given to Challenge Foundation Fellows.
Certainly, one must also ask what role the Peterson family
businesses themselves may play in charterizing Indianapolis. The Precedent
Companies, the Peterson family real estate development firm Bart headed before
becoming mayor, was involved in renovating
in renovatingthe new Stonegate Early College High School before
it closed. Formerly known as the Lawrence Early College High School, the board
there, which included Becky Skillman's educational point man, Virgil Madden,
paid Precedent over $664,000 (noted
on page 8 of the 2009 990s) for its work at the charter school. Precedent also
has subsidized student scholarships to private Catholic schools in Indianapolis
for several years now, as page 16B of the Criterion notes.
In reality, Peterson Construction Company is another
candidate for "incubating" the city with charter schools.
Mind Trust Fellow Earl Martin Phalen has already thrown his hat
into the corporate school ring, with plans to open six blended-learning Phalen
Leadership Academies in Indy. Blended-learning incorporates hiring
one or two teachers for an entire school and propping students in front of
computers for the majority of the day. Low-paid staff watch over the kids in
what Douglas Storm has called "the digital nursery
digital nursery." This comes as no surprise. The
Mind Trust is in favor of increasing blended-learning
throughout the United States.
The Bill Gates/Lilly-funded Mind Trust itself is a perfect example
of the highly connected interlocking web of corporatists
web of corporatistsleading the Indiana school discussion.
As an Eli Lilly executive, Peterson has welcomed several current
or former Lilly members onboard the Mind Trust, including former Mind Trust
president Claire Fiddian-Green, Tony Bennett's pick to run the state's charter
school authorizing board. If future mayors of Indianapolis turn down Mind
Trust-supported charter schools, Fiddian-Green can approve them.
In 2010, David Harris was paid $185,860 and $13,744
and $13,744in "other compensation" to spearhead the Mind
Then there's board member and mega-media celebrity Jane Pauley,
whose son Ross once directed MATCH Corps Recruiting in Boston, a tutor-training ground for Teach for America and
cheap-labor charter school hires.
Andy Rotherham, a Mind Trust board member, recently celebrated
releasing publically the ratings of NYC teachers based solely on the fallacy of
student test scores, so expect a similar public lynching of teachers in
Indianapolis if the Mind Trust plan becomes implemented.
Rotherham is notorious for dispensing Bill Gates-backed pseudo-research which
calls for dismantling public education and de-professionalizing teachers.
In 2006, Rotherham's Education
Sector published Marguerite Roza's "Frozen Assets: Rethinking Teacher Contracts Could Free Billions for School Reform,
Assets: Rethinking Teacher Contracts Could Free Billions for School Reform,"
which was funded by the Joyce Foundation, another Mind Trust donor. In this
report, Roza, now senior data and economic advisor at the Gates Foundation,
outlines how corporate-run schools could win $77 billion in annual public
school funds if more students were herded into classes and teachers were
stopped from getting master's degrees, since professional teachers are paid
more than rookie teachers and have too generous health plans.
Bill Gates, in fact, is the shadowy figure behind the Mind Trust
school organizations). His foundation funds Mind Trust's CEE-Trust,
the Mind Trust plan for Indianapolis. Gates also funds Stand for Children
for Children, the front-group the Mind Trust imported to Indiana.
Gates uses money he doesn't pay in taxes to "give back,"
not to communities that buy his products but to school choice corporatists who
will profit now and in the future.
And "profit" is the key word here, as school activist
Jonathan Kozol revealed in Harpers in 2007, after being
slipped a stock-market prospectus from a Wall Street friend detailing how
privatizing public education could swell the pockets of hedge fund managers
like those who run the astroturf Democrats for Education Reform, whose Indiana
branch leader applauds the
Mind Trust plan.
Kozol writes:" From the point of view of private profit, one
of these [Wall Street] analysts enthusiastically observes, "the K-12
market is the Big Enchilada."
Indianapolis parents and school children, you're the meat in this
Big Enchilada, and you're about to get swallowed.
A Walt Whitman scholar and Hoosier who holds a Ph.D. from Oklahoma
State University, Doug Martin's exposures of the corporate education movement
have appeared or been referenced in the Associated Press, the Parents Across
America blog, the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, Charter School Scandals,
Susan Ohanian's Testing Atrocities and Outrages, NPR/State Impact Florida, the
Pulp (Broward-Palm Beach New Times), the Indianapolis Star, Fort Wayne Journal