Who runs our IPS?
~ James Baldwin
Overview:Traditionally, local school board races are nonpartisan. Such elections are supposed to be about grassroots politics and connections made at doorways between candidates and voters. Campaign chests are small: some yard signs, political buttons, and lots of volunteers. As well, school board elections are local--concerned with local issues and influenced by local stakeholders. Those outside a district normally show little concern. Influences from state or national interests are neither necessarily sought nor expected. Why would they be? It’s local politics. Yet, what happened in Indianapolis during our 2012 Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) school board elections threatens this tradition. Such events raise this issue: Need Indianapolis, Marion County, and Indiana voters realize: state-wide and national education organizations and individuals with a market reform agenda for public education intend to control your local school boards.
To create a perspective, it must be noted that current IPS Commissioner Roof had $2,461 in her 2010 campaign chest. Current Commissioner White had $4,182 in her 2010 campaign chest.For the 2012 election, Commissioner Gore had $2,157 to run against Commissioner Cosby’s $78,326. Cosby got $15,491 from the Stand for Children (SfC) PAC (Oct. 11: $5,000; Oct. 31: $5,000; Dec. 18: $5,491) and $43,867 from Democrats for Education Reform (DfER) PAC (Oct. 12: $3,356; Oct 31: $4,000; Dec.18: $36,511). So, of the total $78, 326, contributions from SfC/DfER equaled $59, 358. However, $55,368 (93%) of this amount was “in-kind.” Thus, she was not the leader in terms of total cash contributions. Commissioner Cosby won, receiving 75% of the votes.“Our staff and volunteers knocked on 17,000 doors and made 39,000 phone calls on behalf of our members' endorsement of Gayle.” (December 27, 2012 E-mail from Indianapolis SfC’s Mat Impink.) This does not count the many mailers SfC sent out.Then there was $57,000 campaign chest of Commissioner Odle. His opponent, Larry Vaughn, had zero funds in his campaign chest. Commissioner Odle received 63% of votes cast.What more compelling is “unpacking” and analyzing Commissioner Hannon $67,438.00. She won 67% of the votes cast. Some of her biggest donations came from out of state:
- David Ritchie, Denver..............................4,000
- Arthur Rock, San Francisco....................5,000
- Greg Penner, Atherton, CA......................5,000
- Allen/Jennifer Fournier’s, Far Hills, NJ..2,000
- Lydia Callaghan, Palo Alto CA ..............5,000
- Ken Thiry, Cherry Hill, CO ....................3,000
- David Goldberg, Atherton, CA ...............1,000
- Charles Ledley, Boston……… 1,000
- Tim Marquez, Denver ………..1,000
- Geoff Ralson, Atherton, CA …5,000
- Michael Bloomberg, NYC…...10,000
- Leadership for Educational
- Equity, Washington, DC..........+1,240
Here’s the bio’s of the multi-millionaires Jazzman mentions. A close look at the profiles of these contributors provides clues as to why they support particular school board candidates.
Arthur Rock, San Francisco CA: $8,000 donation. Rock is a well-known venture capitalist who also serves on the board of TFA and is an active funder of KIPP. Rock has invested in the Rocketship Education, a "hybrid" school that features extensive use of computerized instruction and, consequently, has a smaller faculty than regular public schools. Larry Miller found that Rocketship had large student attrition rates and smaller percentages of special needs students than its neighboring public schools (Rocketship responds to Miller here).
David Goldberg, Atherton, CA: $8,000 donation. Goldberg is CEO of SurveyMonkey; his wife is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Both are partners, along with Rock, in Rocketship Education.
Kent Thiry, Cherry Hills, CO: $10,400 donation. Thiry is CEO of DaVita, a dialysis provider; he was previously a consultant for Bain Capital. DaVita has been the subject of several federal investigations (in fairness, the company was recently cleared in one). Thiry has been interested in Colorado's schools and education policy for some time. He donated $33,000 to a slate of "reform" candidates in Denver school board elections last year, who were also endorsed by Democrats for Education Reform and Jonah Edelman's Stand For Children.
Lydia Callaghan, Palo Alto, CA: $8,000 donation. Callaghan is the wife of Adam Weiss, a principal at Scout Capital Management. Weiss has been introduced at investor conferences by Whitney Tilson, founder of Democrats For Education Reform, a group well-known for supporting charter school expansion.
~ Chris Hedges
- Why would anyone need such amounts of money ($67,000 or $57,000 or $78,000 which equal over $202,000.00) to run for an IPS school board seat (a job paying little) and especially against opponents with practically nothing, and in two instances actually nothing?
- Is this a power grab?
- Are candidates trying to buy school board seats?
- Why is this amount of money coming in from out of town?
- Are school board elections in Pike, Warren, Perry or the other townships next to be flooded with money from millionaires supporting board candidates who will carry out their national agenda?
“It’s just an attack by folks [Latinos for Education Reform] who aren’t in this district and can’t vote
here and are trying to influence the vote in northwest Denver.”
~Arturo Jimenez, Denver school member whose 2011 campaign raised $68,073, winning
against opponent Draper Carson who raised $177,440.
Do we need a limit put on the amount money school board candidates can collect so that school board elections are about the issues and not who can buy school board seats or who is following agendas of out-of-state interests?
“Pro-reform coalitions tend to be dominated by business and political elites and supported by
neighborhoods with large concentrations of highly educated middle-class professionals.”
~ David Kimball and Lana Stein, “Democracy at Work? School Board Elections and Reform in St. Louis”
The Big Picture
Conclusion: What does the future hold?
© 2013 Education-Community Action Team
To continue to put what is going on locally in perspective, a review of the efforts of national education lobbyists Stand for Children to influence local elections around America is needed.
2010 Washington state legislative session Using money and clout, SfC:
- turned out and testified at hearings, met with key legislators and generated 600 calls and 5,325 emails during critical times.
- advocated in local districts distributing 4,000 postcards and attended town hall meetings.
- collaborated with pro-reform organization to have a strong presence in the media with over 30 editorials over the course of the 2009-2010 sessions and recruited the support of 34 superintendents in 2010.
- pushed state senate leadership at a critical moment to Race to the Top—wrote/delivered 327 personal postcards, ran 42 radio ads, sent over 300 emails, made 100 calls and generated 20,000 auto-dial calls to motivated voters.
A look at the 2010-2011 elections
In 2010-2011, SfC has helped elect 19 school board members in: Tennessee (Memphis and Nashville), Colorado (Denver), Oregon (Portland, Reynolds, Salem-Keizer, Lane County, Hillsboro, Central Coast), Washington (Issaquah, Tacoma), and Texas (Houston). In 2010 and 2011, SfC helped elect 41 legislators in CO, OR, and IL. http://stand.org/national/about/what-weve-done
On Oct. 7 2010, SfC Illinois PAC gave $175,000 to legislative candidate Ryan Higgins (R-IL). This was the single largest “outside” legislative campaign check in modern Illinois history. He lost.
According to Illinois Times reporter Rich Miller in an Oct. 21, 2010 article, “Who’s behind SFR?” noted the group contributed $650,000 to rank and file legislative candidates since Oct. 4, 2010.
In 2011, members of the Chicago Teachers Union critical of Stand for Children's funders held a picket, chanting "Billionaires, billionaires, we're no fools, Stand for Children destroys our schools." http://austintalks.org/2011/04/stand-for-children-illinois-stands-for-billionaires-and-corporations/
Stand for Children’s use of big money to influence the passage of Illinois SB7
In July of 2011, Jonah Edelman, Co-founder of Stand for Children, talked in detail about how SfC came to Illinois with the express purpose to take down the teachers unions. Aided by the millions of dollars they raised from top Chicago corporate executives, SfC was able to influence Illinois state legislators to get Senate Bill 7 (SB7) passed. This landmark legislation severely curtailed teachers’ rights and job security. It has been hailed by Arne Duncan and other corporate reformers as a model for the nation in how to takeover public education: identify and support candidates with pro-SfC education platforms and then get them elect into office at state and local levels.
“I’m being quite blunt here, the individual candidates were essentially a vehicle to execute a political objective…” ~ Jonah Edelman on why he used big money to influence the vote on SB7
When Edelman found out his remarks were taped and made public, he soon apologized. http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/jonah-edelman-apologizes-to-my-blog-readers/
A look at the 2012 elections
Massachusetts SfC endorsed 9 legislators Boston, Worchester & Springfield.
Indiana SfC endorsed 8 house/senate candidates in Indiana.
DfER also backed 15 state legislators and 12 US legislators. In Indiana they endorsed Andre Carson, Tim Delany and Mary Sullivan, and John Gregg. Only Carson won.
Colorado SfC endorsed 11 legislators.
Washington SfC endorsed 24 legislative candidates. SfC endorsed Republican Rob McKenna for governor. Democrat Jay Inslee won.
It’s interesting, not all folks in the state of Washington see SfC as a positive organization.
The Washington American Federation of Teaches filed a complaint against SfC, alleging a deceptive mailer on behalf of candidate Sylvester Cann and saying: SfC, “…uses money from ultra-conservative donors across the country to enact legislation to fund vouchers, de-fund public schools, and expand charter schools…”
Oregon SfC endorsed 38 legislative candidates.
SfC had previously endorsed 3 successful candidates for the Lincoln County Oregon School District Board of Directors in the May 2007 election.
Illinois SfC endorsed 26 legislators.
SfC opened its Chicago chapter in 2012.
With $200,000 from a single out-of-town source, SfC got 4 of 7 candidates it endorsed for Memphis school board elected to office.
For the November 2012 Phoenix school board election, SfC endorsed 2 school board candidates in the Phoenix Roosevelt School District and 2 in the Murphy School District.