"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, November 01, 2013

Hedge Fund Operative Gordon Hendry Joins Indiana State Board of Education

by Doug Martin

Jennifer Wagner : "I've heard it's (Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error) a lovely piece of fiction."
When Mind Trust board member and Bill Bennett operative David Shane (whose wife is a former Eli Lilly Endowment "education consultant)" recently stepped down from the Indiana State Board of Education, I was not shocked when Mike Pence quickly picked Democrat Gordon Hendry to join the state board. 
Hendry is married to Jennifer Wagner, the former spokesperson for the Indiana Democratic Party. Wagner has been in bed with the rightwing in Indiana for some time.  Her company Mass Ave. PR filmed the corporate-theocratic 2012 Ed Reform Rocks Rally at the statehouse, starring Democrats for Education Reform founder Kevin Chavous, who is also a Bradley, Walmart, DeVos, and Mitch Daniels operative who holds a special place in my upcoming book Hoosier School Heist as doing the dirty work and profiting handsomely from the money of white rich people who hate blacks. Wagner’s PR firm is now doing marketing for the Indiana Democrats for Education Reform (IN DFER) (Page 4 of PDF), and Gordon Hendry donated to IN DFER's Mary Ann Sullivan's campaign.

The Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a group of hedge funds managers in NYC that seek to make money from using Bill Clinton's new markets tax credits and loaning to charter schools who use scab workers as teachers. As Muncie Voice’s Todd Smekens recently noted, “Wall Street’s hedge fund managers….are salivating over the potential of steady streams of income tied to each student aka ‘commodity to be traded.’”
Smekens is right.  On average hedge fund managers make $843,000 per hour. In 2010, when DFER was hurling New York educators under the bus and buying out lawmakers to lift the cap on charter schools, “the top 25 hedge fund chiefs made as much as 685,000 teachers who educate 13 million children.” As researcher Ken Libby has noted, it was hedge fund managers and real estate agents out to profit from charter schools that dominated the anti-teacher campaign in NYC. 

Besides being a top advisor to then-mayor Bart Peterson (who hung out with the NYC hedge fund managers when he received their “Education Warrior” award a few years back), Gordon Hendry is a real estate agent specializing in the education sector, so his job at the state board of education is a perfect fit for DFER and Bart Peterson's school privatizing Mind Trust.
As a front group for hedge fund managers, the IN DFER is funded by people who could care less about educating children. 

NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg gave IN DFER $20,000 in 2012 (page 2 of PDF), alongside money from another NYC player Anthony Davis.  Education Reform Now, a Mind Trust supporter and the brother outfit of the Democrats for Education Reform, gave $23,000 in in-kind contributions (page 4 of PDF).  Angela-Smith Jones, who Mayor Ballard hired to help close down the only community run charter school in Indianapolis, The Project School, threw the hedge fund group $100 in 2011, too (page 2), as did David Harris of the Mind Trust (page 3), whose paycheck puts him in the top 2 percent of earners in America.  
In 2011, since the Mind Trust plan to completely eliminate the democratically elected school board of Indianapolis didn’t work out, IN DFER, along with Mitch Daniels' buddy Al Hubbard (one of the architects of the corporate-theocratic overhaul of Indiana public schools) bought out the Indianapolis School board, funding, among others, Caitlin Hannon.  Caitlin Hannon is the Network Coordinator for Teach Plus, the Mind Trust/Bill Gates funded anti-teacher seniority outfit which was started by Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellow Celine Coggin.  Teach Plus hires people to write studies claiming that once Indiana closes down low-performing schools, lazy senior teachers will replace the jobs of younger ones at other public schools in the district, what they refer to as the “Domino Effect.” DFER’s national member, Charles Ledley, Jr. also paid for Hannon’s campaign.  As DFER’s hedge fund star, Ledley runs Cornwall Capital, headquartered in Berkeley, California.

Gene Zink--chief gentrification manager, charter school financer, member of  the libertarian Challenge Foundation Academy, and co-worker with Al Gore’s son at Strategic Capital Partners--  gave $10,000 to IN DFER in July 2011(page 2 of PDF), about the same time the hedge fund managers in NYC threw in $5,000 (page 3 of PDF).
Greater Educational Opportunities’ Rollin Dick has handed out $200 (page 2 of PDF) to IN DFER to help spread more character schools in Indy. Dick  runs charter schools for rightwing school voucher and Walmart John Walton friend Kevin Teasley, a past Ronald Reagan operative whose shady history I have documented before. Although he has lavished Mitch Daniels, Tony Bennett, and Indiana Republican Brian Bosma with campaign money, Rollin Dick (currently of MH Equity Investors) is best known for his involvement with Conseco. As chief financial official for Conseco, Dick along with CEO Steven C. Hilbert resigned in 2000 after the insurance investor went into bankruptcy and handed out $95 million to buy the name of Conseco Fieldhouse, the stadium of the Indianapolis Pacers.  In 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Dick and Conseco’s James Adams for $5.6 million.

Gordon Hendry may, in fact, be on the state board to carry out the Democrats for Education Reform’s hedge fund agenda for education, since word on the street is the DFER is seeking to buy out the Indiana Democratic Party. There have been signs.   In April of 2013, in order to help hide campaign funding, Larry Grau—Hoosier waterboy for the New York hedge fund managers--filed the papers for an Indiana PAC where the hedge fund money will start rolling. Since the hedge fund managers know that Hoosiers may kick the Republicans to the curb in the upcoming elections, they see this as the perfect opportunity to move in for the kill.  It would be wise for voters to start monitoring the campaign donations of their local Democrats now. Hendry, acting like he cares about Indiana school children, teachers, and parents, has decided to take a “listening” tour across the state.  I personally don’t care what propaganda Hendry has to say when he arrives in town with his hedge-fund and rightwing supported wife. In fact, it is time to make the state board of election an elected board, by and for the children, teachers, and parents of Indiana.  There is a petition online now to do just that.  Please take a few seconds and sign it.

UPDATE:  Jennifer Wagner, in reference to my article above, posted this comment on her facebook page, after being asked how much money she was making doing PR work for IN DFER:

Jennifer Wagner: I was at the very first meeting, and I've mostly volunteered my time. I was paid a few times for some larger projects, but everything else has been pro bono. I have worked with Stand for Children on a contract basis. See? Transparency is neat! I don't do this because I get paid a fantastic amount of money. I do it because I believe in it.

Guess she doesn't realize that we know how hedge fund managers used Stand for Children to buy Illinois Democrats to throw teachers under the bus a while back.


  1. I posted a comment on Jennifer Wagner's FB page. She is obviously a tool for the right wing, and if she were really interested in having a rational conversation about education or "concerned" that children of all backgrounds and income levels have competent PUBLIC schools to attend, she would lose the snarky and disrespectful comments.

  2. Another home run, Doug! I find it interesting that they've crossed over to democrats as a back up plan. We're lucky to have someone so knowledgeable of these games shedding light on these monied interests and their shills.