This space explores issues in public education policy, and it advocates for a commitment to and a re-examination of the democratic purposes of schools. If there is some urgency in the message, it is due to the current reform efforts that are based on a radical re-invention of education, now spearheaded by a psychometric blitzkrieg of "metastasizing testing" aimed at dismantling a public education system that took almost 200 years to build. JH August, 2005
Monday, September 30, 2013
Mike Pence’s Faith-Based Quest to Corporatize Preschool
By Doug Martin
Even though Indiana does not fund
preschool and even failed to pass a law for a preschool pilot program
recently, Mike Pence has a newly-formed early childhood
learning advisory committee which doesn’t seem to be meant to help the
situation. In fact, the advisory committee reflects a
free-market biblical capitalism and should shock true Christians and parents alike. Instead of funding full public early
learning initiatives in Indiana, this committee appears to be Pence’s faith-based
quest to corporatize preschool and hand out taxpayer money to Christian Right
groups running church and in-home daycare centers.Although the advisory board does not have
anyone who is an early childhood learning expert on it, it does give a voice to
Eli Lilly, the drug-maker behind many corporate school initiatives in Indiana.
Although an Indiana Head Start Program
leader is on Pence’s early childhood advisory board, the state doesn’t even
give money to Head Start and isn’t in any hurry to supplement the federal
program, as some states do.
One board member is Wabash College-educated
Alonzo Weems, a vice president at Eli Lilly’s bio-medicines unit.For some reason, Eli Lilly officials believe
they should be allowed to call the shots on Indiana education. The drug
company and its nonprofits, by far, are big players in the corporate school
movement in Indiana, and current and past board members sit on a whole slew of boards and fund the people and groups out to privatize our
Lilly’s illegal marketing of Zyprexa to
nursing home residents haskilled off more than a few
senior citizens and hurt thousands of people of all ages, as I detail
in my soon-to-be-released book Hoosier School Heist.And yes, anti-psychotic
drugs for toddlers
is the next big “in” thing for the pharmaceutical giants. Not to mention the A.D.H.D drugs from Lilly
and other companies doctors are prescribing to preschool kids, as the New York Timesrecentlyhighlighted. There is no evidence that Lilly plans to use
its voice on Pence’s board to promote its pills, but Lilly has too much power
in the corporate school movement in Indiana, as is.
There may be hope in Pence’s selection of
Weems, however. Weems has spent time working with United Way’s Success for 6
child care program, so let’s hope this wins out over his pharmaceutical role.
Pence’s board chair for the early childhood
learning advisory committee is the private-college Presbyteran educated and
former drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb representative Kevin Bain who comes
from the Southwestern Indiana Business Leaders Roundtable and the Welborn
Baptist Foundation. First off, it is safe
to say that any group with the phrase “Business Roundtable” in its name is unfit for
school children, as Susan Ohanian and others have noted more than twice, including the business-loaded
education roundtable in Indiana. The Business Roundtable's national goal is to use the public schools to train workers, force-feed kids standardized tests, and it's been at it since State Farm's Ed Rust ran the show several decades ago.
Then there’s Pence’s board member Tammy
Veselsky from the Traders Point Christian Academy, which runs its own preschool program, receives taxpayer
money through school vouchers, and takes kidsto the Creation Museum where the dinosaurs and the Sarah Palins roam hand-in-hand.Traders Point Christian Academy is associated with Traders Point Christian Church which helps Focus
on the Family giveanti-gay conferences
and perform gay conversion therapy. The school’s former headmaster
is J.K. Stevens, who now teaches
at Lincoln Christian University, which Veselsky attended. Eli Lilly’s Lilly Endowment, in fact, funds
Lincoln Christian University’s World View Eyes, a program to “expand” the minds
of youth to the ways of spreading a Christian worldview that Traders Point Christian
Academy is involved with (page 8 in pdf box).
Pence’s goal to fund Christian Right
preschool for Hoosiers could become horrific if it lacks regulation and
supervision.Lack of regulation has causedpreschool deaths nationwide and in Indiana.Indiana currently has 730 faith-based
daycare centers.After a one-year-old
boy drowned in an Indy church’s daycare center, the Associated Press wrote this:
State law allows religious nonprofits
to register their daycares with the state, but the facilities avoid much of the
oversight that licensed daycares face. Only about 5 percent of church daycares
are licensed through the Family and Social Services Administration.
The differences in requirements for licensed and
unlicensed faith-based ministries are vast. Licensed centers must follow 192
rules; the unlicensed faith-based ministries, 21. Licensed centers must have
one adult for every four infants and every five toddlers. There is no ratio
requirement for unlicensed centers.
Religious nonprofits have fought repeated legislative
efforts to eliminate the licensing disparity.
Recently, Indiana changed the law so that
background checks have to be done on people who work at the Christian daycare
centers, but not enough has been done.
There is still no ratio requirement of staff to toddler. In February of this year, the Journal
need more evidence that church-based child care programs need stronger
regulation, they can look to a recent incident in Greenwood. An inspector found
a church official previously involved in a substantiated case of child sexual
abuse at the Little Angels Daycare and Preschool.
Even with new laws, faith-based daycare
centers in Indiana could slip into the same condition as Christian Right
boarding schools. Even though Christian Right educators in Indiana boarding
schools have a dangerous track record, the state did nothing to close them for
years.Some, in fact, are still in
As I’ve detailedbefore, New
Horizons Youth Ministries’ staff have had numerous allegations of abuse and the
ministry finally lost its license as a boarding facility in Indiana, Michigan,
and Illinois to board wards of the state. Lifeline Youth and Family Services and
Crosswinds took over the schools but have kept directorial staff members who have been employed with the
abusive facility for as long as 20 years. But they are not the only ones. Indiana
is rife with Christian schools known nationally for their harsh and inhumane
ways of disciplining kids.
Students from Voegtlin’s Fairhaven Baptist Academy in Chesterton have allegedly been humiliated,
spanked until they bled, and even raped.Voegtlin himself did jail time after he started the school in 1970. In
the Anderson program, Voegtlin’s adopted son and daughter, who no longer have
any connect with the pastor, highlight his abuse, and former students describe
how the pastor would paddle them in front of the class.
told CNN’s Gary Tuchman, in a follow up show on September 22, 2012, that “I was raped for three years
straight there. And I was told it was my fault. I went and told the pastor. He
asked me if I was tithing and giving money to the church at that time. He said
it was because I wasn't giving money that I was violated.” Souza says since his
parents are still members of the church, they have cut him off, and he has no
contact with them now.
Fairhaven alumni are producing a movie, the
Side of God, to detail these
abuses. Calling the school a cult that forces child labor, waterboards,
brainwashes, intimidates, and beats to indoctrinate its students to the ways of
Christ at its $80 million complex, survivors of the school, with hundreds of
others, protested a few days after Anderson’s show aired.
alleged rape of her 13-year old sister, Alison Lavery told the Chicago Sun Times that “(The church leaders) called it ‘an affair’ and blamed her, so my family left the church because that wasn’t right.
But I had just transferred into the (church’s school) dorms, so they put me on
grounds arrest, meaning I couldn’t leave the property or talk to anyone outside
of the church. And they told me if I ever left, my life would be destroyed.”
In a state where 15 percent of high school
girls report having been raped, all of this is not reassuring. Christian Right leaders have no business raising kids in daycare centers or boarding schools in this state.
Fascism in Hoosierville
And here lies the problem.Jesus, in Indiana and America, is now Milton
Friedman with a beard.Besides working
with dictators to steal from and
kill the poor throughout his long career, Milton Friedman—a dead economist and
1 percent con-man—is savior to Mike Pence.
Pence got his start working for the 1
percent Friedmanites by leading the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a think
tank whose pseudo researchers spread propaganda in newspapers weekly around the
state.Indiana Policy Review
Foundation’s Cecil Bohanon, in referring to school vouchers, writes this:
Full disclosure: I have a dog in this race. I am on the board of Delaware
Christian Academy (DCA), a private Christian school that uses a traditional
curriculum and accepts state-financed vouchers. I have long advocated
educational vouchers as a means for improving educational quality. I agree with
Dr. Milton Friedman, who would have been 101 years old on July 31 of this year;
I think competition in K-12 education is healthy.
Milton and Jesus have become one.The true message of Jesus has been co-opted
by the 1 percent and the whackos who carry their message. Chris Hedges, the
award-winning journalist and scholar on the death of the liberal class, has warned about the Milton
Friedman Christ and its role in American fascism for some time.In a 2004 article, he writes:
Dr. James Luther
Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we
were his age, he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the
The warning, given
to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and
televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct
its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream
denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States
to create a global, Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such
fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those
who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by
intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with
swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for
fascism in the pages of the Bible.
Adams was in Nazi Germany and barely
Closer to home, socialist and Hoosier union leader
Eugene V. Debs wrote this from his jail cell in 1919, imprisoned for speaking
out against the war:
I told my friends of the cloth that
I did not believe Christ was meek and lowly but a real living, vital agitator
who went into the temple with a lash and a krout and whipped the oppressors of
the poor, routed them out of the doors and spilled their blood and got silver on
the floor. He told the robbed and misruled and exploited and driven people to
disobey their plunderers, he denounced the profiteers, and it was for this that
they nailed his quivering body to the cross and spiked it to the gates of
Jerusalem, not because he told them to love one another. That was harmless
doctrine. But when he touched their profits and denounced them before their
people he was marked for crucifixion.
Christ would not like Pence and the New
World Theocratic Corporate Order.If
Christ were alive today, he’d be in the federal prison in Terre Haute, labeled
a traitor to America.Let’s hope the
true Christians in Indiana come out and say this.Let’s hope the real Christians in Indiana
come out in full force against Pence and his early learning advisory committee and pray for the best for Indiana children.