School Superintendent Tony Bennett’s Mega-Millionaire Charter School: What Else You Should Know
As everyone by now knows, former Indiana (and now Florida) supt. of public schools Tony Bennett was recently caught rigging the grades of an Indy charter school run by multi-millionaire exchange vocation princess, Republican (and Democrat) campaign donor, mansion owner, and current Indiana Education Roundtable member Christel DeHaan. Here are a few more things Indiana (and Florida) taxpayers should know about the Christel House Academy and Christel DeHaan:
1. The Christel House Academy has spent over $70,000 the last few years travelling to God knows where.
For the 2009 calendar year, the school spent $12,000 on travel expenses (see page 10).
In the 2010 calendar year, the Christel House Academy wasted another $20,500 on travel (see page 10).
Even as the Christel House Academy paid out $15,000 on advertising for the 2011 calendar year, it dished out a staggering $40,000 on travel alone (see page 10 in PDF). No details are given in tax records as to where this travel took place, but my guess is it wasn’t to the Indianapolis Zoo. Although I have no proof of it, I would suspect this money was used to fly DeHaan officials overseas to her other charter schools in India, Mexico, and South America, supplying them with a nice vocation, as well.
Did this travelling money come out of taxpayers’ pockets? Or–if we want to be polite and unquestioning citizens–from school fees or other revenue? These are questions that need to be answered.
2. Multi-Millionaire Christel DeHaan hangs around with other unethical people besides Mitch Daniels and Tony Bennett.
When DeHaan broke ground for high school students a few years back, naming that section of the charter school after a former Eli Lilly exec., Mitch Daniels (wanting to keep the Indiana GOP campaign funds rolling), Indy Mayor Greg Ballard, and Ambassador Randall Tobias, were there for the photo-op.
Tobias, then Eli Lilly’s chairman emeritus, is best known for his role in George W. Bush’s administration promoting a religious right anti-AIDS and anti-prostitution public policy while he himself was sleeping with prostitutes. Tobias, for the charter school, went a step further, chairing with DeHaan a $4 million “capital campaign” to raise corporate money for the school.
The school did draw in private investors for a couple of years after Tobias’ “capital campaign,” but the money they gave is chump-change compared to the millions taxpayers are giving. The mega-millionaire’s charter school got $6 million recently for just one year. This money isn’t going to paying janitors, since the school outsources those jobs.
The corporatists who donated to the Christel House Academy are the regular suspects: Eli Lilly (deep into the assault on students, teachers, and public schools in Indiana), JP Morgan (making interest on charter school loans in the Hoosier state), Klipsch Audio Technologies (owned by Betsy DeVos’ front man Fred Klipsch), banks, banks, and more banks, and more corporations.
3. DeHaan supports Bill Gates’ Common Core Initiative.
Along with right-wing PR consultant and former Indiana State Board of Education member Jo Blacketor (whose employee, Faulkner Strategies, helped spread the Betsy DeVos/hedge fund school choice gospel throughout Indiana and America), Christel DeHaan under Mitch Daniels’ watch represented Indiana for the American Diploma Project, a Common Core Standards/Next Generation Science setup the corporate-politico created Achieve, Inc., Education Trust, and the anti-union Fordham Foundation launched in 20o1. Bill Gates’ funding quickly followed.
4. What is Tony going to do?
Looks like many of the conservative rich are having doubts about supporting their lap puppet Tony Bennett now, since he’s spilled the beans on how school accountability really works. As I said back in May 2011, Bennett is not bright enough to write corporate school propaganda; he’s lucky Jeb Bush got him his new gig running (or ruining) the schools in Florida.
Although it’s highly unlikely the Indiana Inspector General will investigate Bennett, as many have called for, Florida Governor Rick Scott can do the right thing and fire Tony Bennett, letting him go on his merry way.
Photo courtesy of the Indiana Department of Education