17 Apr 2011

The Two Indiana Teachers in Mitch Daniels’ Anti-Education TV Commercials: In with the Wrong Crowd

Besides a State Board of Education member who forged her dissertation, charter studies done by charter supporters, and a Superintendent of Public Instruction whose dissertation disproves everything he is putting into practice, Indiana now has Mitch Daniels’ Aiming Higher PAC running a TV ad (displaying a pronoun-antecedent agreement error, in

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12 Apr 2011

Purdue Must Investigate Indiana State Board of Education Member Gwendolyn G. Adell for Academic Dishonesty

The following is a report of academic dishonesty I earlier emailed to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Purdue University officials, and others. To Whom It May Concern: An anonymous researcher recently alerted me to a disturbing finding concerning Gwendolyn G. Adell (also referred to as Gwendolyn Griffith-Adell). As you are aware,

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08 Apr 2011

The Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation (GEO): Indiana, Have You Hugged Your Charter School Operator Today?

When Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced he was closing the Fountain Square Academy charter school last month because of low performance, he focused the blame solely on the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation, which received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education less than a year ago. The

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30 Mar 2011

FBI Investigating Gülen Charter Schools: Gülen Leaders Lavish Gifts And Dinners on Mitch Daniels and Other Indiana Officials

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="School House by TBoard, on Flickr"]School House[/caption]

With the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education investigating them and parents and officials in Ohio, Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, Texas, and elsewhere questioning their financial dealings, it appears that Gülen charter schools—managed by Concept Schools and other companies—have been duping lawmakers, politicians, school boards, and parents for several years now, with accusations flying that the group is using U.S. taxpayer money to help fund the Islamist Hizmet organization in Turkey.

According to Charter School Scandals (one of the top charter school watchdog groups and a close follower of Gülen) there have been 155 Gülen charter schools established or attempted in 28 states in the U.S. and hundreds in other countries.

Gülen charter schools are founded by followers of Fethullah Gülen, a wealthy reformer who lives in exile in Pennsylvania after being kicked out of Turkey for attempting to establish an Islamic state. His group has allegedly infiltrated the Turkish police force, according to cables released by Wikileaks. The goals of the Gülen movement are murky, even to experts and U.S. government officials, who often disagree or change their opinions of the group.

Nonetheless, investigations of the Gülen charter schools are happening. As the Philadelphia Inquirer and other sources note, the FBI investigations are being coordinated by prosecutors in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and involve hundreds of Gülen charter school members nationwide. Suspicions center around the group supposedly using taxpayer money to bring teachers here from Turkey and other countries who are part of this religious group. These teachers then agree to ship back a percentage of their paychecks to the Gülen movement in Turkey.

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22 Mar 2011

The Mind Trust: The Celebrity-Corporate-Government Plan To Privatize Indiana Education

When former NBC Today Show co-host Jane Pauley walked out onto a stage in her birth city, Indianapolis, a year ago, some in the audience, including Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and former mayor Bart Peterson, understood what was behind Pauley’s show of empathy for Indiana’s school children, even though it may have been hidden to those there to see a celebrity.

Pauley spoke with pride of her son Ross—who had just joined the teaching staff of a charter school—and how she heard in Washington about the great things happening in the school reform movement back in her former hometown.

As member of the Board of the Mind Trust, a nonprofit school reform group in Indianapolis which has over $12 million to attack public education, Pauley was there to help sell the corporate privatization of public education. This coming May, in fact, Pauley will even join New York Times’ David Brooks (a “Quiet Revolution” quack) onstage at the Mind Trust’s “Grow What Works: Campaign to Accelerate Education Reform.”

The Mind Trust is the product of President and former Indianapolis Democratic mayor Bart Peterson and CEO David Harris, the mayor’s first Charter School Director in Indianapolis. In 2001, the Indiana legislature passed a charter school law which made Peterson the first mayor to have the authority to charter schools in the country. For their various programs, Harris, Peterson, and the Lilly Endowment-funded Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis received $11.3 million from the Gates Foundation. To the Indianapolis Charter Schools Facilities Fund, a loan program which operated from 2005 to 2009, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) added another $1 million.

Bart Peterson is currently the Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications for Eli Lilly and Company, the mega-drug company where Mitch Daniels was Senior Vice President before joining the Bush administration. In fact, current or former Lilly members onboard with the Mind Trust include Alecia DeCoudreaux, General Counsel at Lilly USA, Mind Trust President Claire Fiddian-Green, and Anne Shane, Community Development and Education Consultant to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The Lilly Endowment, the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, and the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation all significantly fund the Mind Trust.

Mind Trust’s Board of Directors is stacked with other Indiana corporate leaders. It includes Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPALCO) CEO Ann Murtlow, who previously worked as an AES Corporation liaison at the same time Mitch Daniels was an IPALCO board member, then joined IPALCO in 2002 (for the AES-IPALCO connections to charter school scandals, see my article here). Murtlow is also on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors of Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and now the Senior Vice Chair of the Mind Trust.

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09 Mar 2011

No Charter School Left Behind: Mitch Daniels, Tony Bennett, and Dennis Bakke’s Imagine Schools

(This is Part 1 of a much bigger story on the corruption in the Mitch Daniels-Tony Bennett plan for education in Indiana.)

In his university lectures on business ethics, Dennis Bakke, President and CEO of Imagine Charter Schools, the biggest educational management organization in America, often says that “leadership is about… freeing people to make decisions,” but his actions running over 70 public charter schools in 12 states and the District of Columbia shows that money and control are the main issues, not civil rights or children’s educational or safety issues.

Headquartered in Virginia, Bakke often sends his people into poverty-stricken areas in big U.S. cities, hand-picks a school board to use Imagine’s non-profit branch to become a charter school, then uses Schoolhouse Finance, Imagine’s for-profit real estate affiliate, to buy the school buildings. Then Schoolhouse Finance charges the school rent, which is sometimes nearly 40 percent of the school’s overall budget. Or, as is the case with Imagine Schools’ selling of 27 school buildings for $206 million to Entertainment Properties Trust, a real estate owner of theaters, Imagine leases back the buildings and then subleases them to the charter school holders. If anyone on the school boards, or in the schools themselves, protests, Imagine quickly gets rid of them.

Imagine receives both state taxpayer money based on each number of student enrolled at each school and federal grants. In fact, Imagine works as both a non-profit and for-profit entity. Although their non-profit status has been with the IRA since 2006 and has not yet been approved, they have received nearly $11 million dollars under Obama’s stimulus program.

BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA

In Indiana, where Imagine manages four schools, Don Willis has been a hitman for the charters, a Bakke favorite and one of the Indiana government’s main men. In Fort Wayne in April 2006, Bakke picked Willis, a business man and private school owner, to found the schools and it’s been nothing but trouble every since. As chairperson of Imagine-Fort Wayne Charter School board, Willis signed the contract with Imagine Schools in Virginia without a vote from others on the school board and without a public meeting, which is illegal under Indiana’s Open Vote law. This contract gave Bakke’s company a 12 percent fee for all money brought into the school working under the nonprofit Imagine-Fort Wayne Charter School. The contract also gave away power of the local board to make decisions on hiring, curriculum, discipline, and all other issues of governance concerning the school. Willis then went on, without the school board’s knowledge, to found another Imagine School in Fort Wayne. By the time the school board realized this, they had been board members of the new corporation for three months. This has happened with a third Imagine School in Fort Wayne (as well as one in Texas), the Imagine Bridge Academy, which has yet to open because of Ball State’s concerning about the various locations Imagine has proposed to locate the school, most recently in a building with safety issues.

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27 Feb 2011

Letter to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce: Hoosiers Say No to Charter School Scammers

Dear Kevin Brinegar, CEO, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Not content that Citizens United Terre Haute lawyer James Bopp, Jr. and your lobbying against the Disclose Act made it legal for undisclosed corporations to endlessly fund the destruction of democracy, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce now has the nerve to call

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21 Feb 2011

Eugene V. Debs Day at the Indiana Statehouse: A History Lesson for Mitch Daniels

With 4,800 jobs in Indiana’s 8th District (where I live) going to China in the last decade, and Hoosier taxpayers feeding J.P. Morgan close to $200,000 monthly to handle our food stamps, Governor Mitch Daniels’ attempt to turn non-union workers against the teachers and other union members isn’t working. Thousands of workers have descended on the Indiana Statehouse to show Daniels that what goes around comes around.

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17 Oct 2010

A Tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot

A Tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot

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16 Aug 2010

Sexist John Boehner and Hoover the Talking Seal

Sexist John Boehner and Hoover the Talking Seal

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