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

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Dirty Water on Mike Pence's Fascist CECI

More information is coming into me, as we speak, concerning the CECI detailed below. I will be following up with more writings concerning Pence's group, so please sign the petition to tell Pence to stop his educational power grab. And call Mike Pence at 1 (317) 232-4567).  For an insightful take on fascism to apply to contemporary America, see political science scholar Laurence Britt's "The 14 Characteristics of Fascism" here. DM)

When Glenda Ritz walked out on the recent state board of education fiasco in Indiana, the corporate Indy Star quickly branded the supt. of public education as a misfit, even though she received more votes than Mike Pence during the 2012 election.  The Star has printed the same faulty corporate narrative since day one.  As Parents & Educators against the Daniels & Bennett Educational Reform have mentioned, “we have decided the accumen of Star reporters is such that we will no longer repost links to their articles or comment on their site.”  It is a good move.  The Star won’t tell readers that the so-called Democrats working hand-in-hand with Pence are mere neoliberal mouthpieces.  And the newspaper dare not mention who is running Mike Pence’s Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), a new fascist education dept. the governor has signed into existence without a public meeting and without even a vote from his corporate Republicans in the Indiana state House and Senate. 

Stuffed with past staffers of Tony Bennett's office (like Molly Chamberlain), the CECI's goal is to work with Pence and the state board of education to strip all power and money from Glenda Ritz and her Department of Education.  The CECI is loaded with those out to dismantle and privatize Indiana public schools.

One source close to happenings at the statehouse told me this: “Their (CECI’s) budget for staff and meetings is $14 million for two years. Glenda Ritz's staffing and meeting budget is $16 million. And she has a much bigger staff with much smaller salaries.” 

Speaking of salaries, Claire Fiddian-Green is going to make more money leading Pence’s group than the democratically elected Ritz.

Without having received one single vote from the Hoosier public, Claire-Fiddian Green will be making $120,000 in taxpayer money a year as Pence’s main CECI helmsperson*.  Fiddian-Green was former Democratic mayor Bart Peterson’s princess at the school privatizing Mind Trust and carried the water for the group's CEO David Harris, the tie-wearing $200,000-a-year paid corporate slackie. Fiddian-Green comes from mega-drug giant Eli Lilly, which calls the shots on Indiana education policy from behind the scenes.  After leaving the pseudo-liberal Teach for American-promoting Mind Trust, Fiddian-Green went on to run the Indiana Charter School Board, where she had a killer privatizing team with member Todd Huston, who gets a paycheck from those selling Bill Gates' Common Core.  Now a legislator, Huston left his job as Tony Bennett’s chief of staff to land a gig with Cisco Systems, then turned around and sold Bennett video-conferencing equipment from Cisco which was never used, some of it never even delivered.  It cost Indiana taxpayers $1.7 million. 

Under Fiddian-Green's regime there was Indiana Charter School Board member Jamie Garwood, too, a Marian University student.  When the Indiana State Ethics Commission ruled that Garwood could not participate in the authorizing board discussions concerning the Urban League’s charter school application for Fort Wayne, since she was the Urban League’s director of development, the Indiana Charter School Board approved Urban League’s request to allow American Quality Schools to run the charter school anyway, after Garwood promoted it on TV.
If Fiddian-Green is not enough to throw fear and anger into voters, she is not alone in working for Pence’s CECI.  Ice Miller lawyer James Betley is also onboard, raking in $98,000 a year working for CECI.  Ice Miller lobbied for the hedge fund and Mind Trust-backed front group Stand for Children in 2011 to pass anti-teacher laws in Indiana.  Betley has recently joined the Indiana Urban Education Solutions, headed by a professor at Religious Right Wesleyan University and K12 Inc., the for-profit charter school company founded by Mitch Daniels' racist friend, Bill Bennett.  Indiana Urban Education Solution desires to plant four new online learning charter schools across Indiana.  K12 is working with the Edna Martin Christian Center (see page 9 in PDF), led by former Black Alliance for Education Options' (BAEO) Barato Britt.  If you don’t know by now, BAEO is the African-American front group set up by Walmart and the Bradley Foundation (whose past board members include Mitch Daniels and Bill Bennett) to privatize public schools across the country.

K12 Inc. is a $708.4 million-a-year business serving more than 100,000 students a year in 32 states, including more than 2,000 school districts as well as charter schools.” Only one in four students entering K12’s online schools graduate.  Because of this for-profit corporation, 10,000 teachers lost jobs in 2012.  Known for having Arizona student essays graded by people in India  and for counting 120 students “for state reimbursement whose enrollment could not be verified or who did not meet Colorado residency requirements,” K12 and other online learning establishments, as University of Colorado Boulder School of Education’s Alex Molnar has noted, are “fundamentally trying to do to public education what the banks did with home mortgages.” K12 is currently being sued by shareholders for “making false statements to investors about students’ poor performance on standardized tests.”

For $80,000 in taxpayer money, Lou Ann Baker is manufacturing the PR spin for Pence’s new CECI department.  A Christian Right Hanover College grad, Baker is best known for managing communications for Veolia Water, one of the world's biggest and most corrupt private water companies.  Veolia had a 20-year contract to run the city of Indianapolis' water system until it was terminated in 2010 and the company was paid another $29 million basically to go away. Veolia profits from projects for 550 communities across North America.  Besides detailing Veolia's bribery schemes, reporter Petulah Olibert describes Veolia's work in Indiana as follows:
The organization stated that in December 2003 the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission settled a civil fraud action against Vivendi Universal (now Veolia), which showed a course of conduct by Vivendi that disguised the company's cash flow and liquidity problems. 
In 2005, in Indiana, for instance, the city's contract manager wrote an eight-page list to VWI outlining numerous contractual and verbal promises broken by the company.  Veteran water workers said that they witnessed Veolia management directing other workers to follow improper state procedures, skimp on safety standards and even change computer documents to make it appear that Veolia had met all incentive criteria.
In an on-camera interview, a distinguished employee told Fox 59 that he wouldn't drink Veolia's water.
Baker came onboard the private water company in 2006, presumably to paint a more positive image to the public, as she does now for Pence's CECI and the Lt. governor's office, where she is also employed.  Who was first behind the water heist in Indy?  Lawyers with close ties to Bart Peterson, CECI’s Claire Fiddian-Green’s friend, as Gary R. Welsh notes at Advance Indiana. 

I have also heard, through the grapevine, that it was Pence’s new CECI department members who wrote the letter against Ritz that the state board of education signed.  This would not shock me, for Daniels and Pence have been notorious for putting the most uneducated people on the board of education.  Gwen Adell, if we remember, plagiarized her Purdue Phd dissertation.  It is not known who actually wrote Pence’s recent editorial on the "chaos" erupting in Indianapolis concerning the bullying his cronies are perpetrating against Ritz, but the author refers to “sharing responsibility,” which has always been a Republican code term for “let’s pretend to be bi-partisan and screw over common folk and funnel money to the wealthy."

Vic Smith sums up the Pence fascist CECI /state board power-grab here:

Governor Pence wants a competitive marketplace of schools fueled by private school vouchers and school choice.  This will slowly diminish public education and upgrade private schools with taxpayer money.

Superintendent Ritz wants to focus public money on public schools to bring equity and high quality to every public school.  This will upgrade public education and counter the shift toward privatization.
That is right.  Mike Pence didn't even allow his Big Gov. Republicans to formally vote the new office into existence. Along with the state board privatizers, fake Christians, and corporate slackies, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, along with Pence, is out to stop the democratically elected Glenda Ritz from carrying out democracy and to basically tell voters in Indiana that their vote is not worth a dime. 
* This is the document which was passed to me by an anonymous source, which shows that the main CECI players are raking in almost $1 million of taxpayers money in salaries to help Pence destroy Ritz and public education. If this document is inaccurate in any way, shape, or form, I look forward to Pence's office clarifying the data for me.


  1. I was wondering where some of W's most loyal bottom-feeding toadies ended up after our nation's first war criminal president left office. I see they are in your neighborhood, Doug--but with reporting like this, they are sure to be on the run soon for another rock to hide under. Nice work.

    No place to hide.

  2. With all of those Bennett people in this agency, just how close is Tony? My fear is that he is just outside the door waiting to be let in by Pence.

  3. With all of those Bennett people in this agency, where is Tony? My fear is that he is just outside the door waiting for Pence to let him in.

  4. Just out of curiosity (and for comparison), what is Ritz's salary?

    1. Hi Erin. Ritz's salary is $89,475.88.

  5. I don't know how reliable this source is, but Ballotpedia.org states that Ritz's base salary is $87,790. So Pence is essentially paying all but 3 of these CECI people more than the actual Superintendent of Instruction. Shameful.


    1. Yes, I agree. If you go to this website I've pasted at the end of this comment, you can find what the state says it is paying Ritz. You can also look up other officials, if you want to. Just scroll down to the very bottom of the page, and you can find the "search" engine. Thank you for commenting Erin. http://www.in.gov/itp/2406.htm

  6. If these are state employees why aren't they listed with the rest of state employees salaries?

    1. Alan, if you go to the Indiana Govt. Transparency Portal (http://www.in.gov/itp/2406.htm) and search under state employees (at the bottom of the page), you can find the pay. For Betley, Baker, and Gough, you need to search under Education Employment Relations as the agency. Thanks.

  7. Which I was making $80K for a couple of press releases per month.