by Doug Martin
Besides seeking to dethrone Indiana supt. of public education Glenda Ritz from the state board of education, Mike Pence and his Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI)–in the recently leaked email from James Betley to Claire Fiddian-Green—reveal the government/theocratic/corporate school complex's plan to allow Carpe Diem, Rocketship, and Christel House to “pool or share funds” and set up a public-private entity to quickly hand empty school buildings to charter schools.
By lending a helping hand to networks of Walmart-type for-profit charter schools in Indiana, the governor will carry on the crony capitalism these charter school chains are known for nationwide. Let us examine the big players.
But Rocketship has been busy marketing to the teen-crowd. At the grand opening of a Santa Clara Microsoft school, Rocketship used “Joe Montana, one of the Jonas Brothers, and [a] special performance by rock band the Black Keys” to raise funding for more corporate schools.
HELPING TONY BENNETT’S MEGA-MILLIONAIRE DONOR’S CHARTER SCHOOL OUTFIT
And yes, the leaked Pence/CECI memo mentions none other than Christal DeHaan’s Christel House as a possible outfit to "network" across the state. The fact that Tony Bennett changed the grade of DeHaan’s charter school because she was a campaign donor doesn’t faze Pence in the least.
When DeHaan broke ground for high school students a few years back, naming that section of the charter school after a former Eli Lilly exec., Mitch Daniels (wanting to keep the Indiana GOP campaign funds rolling), Indy Mayor Greg Ballard, and Ambassador Randall Tobias, were there for the photo-op.
Tobias, then Eli Lilly’s chairman emeritus, is best known for his role in George W. Bush’s administration promoting a religious right anti-AIDS and anti-prostitution public policy while he himself was sleeping with prostitutes. Tobias, for the charter school, went a step further, chairing with DeHaan a $4 million “capital campaign” to raise corporate money for the school.
The school did draw in private investors for a couple of years after Tobias’ “capital campaign,” but the money they gave is chump-change compared to the millions taxpayers are giving. The mega-millionaire’s charter school got $6 million recently for just one year. This money isn’t going to paying janitors, since the school outsources those jobs.
The corporatists who donated to the Christel House Academy are the regular suspects: Eli Lilly (deep into the assault on students, teachers, and public schools in Indiana), JP Morgan (making interest on charter school loans in the Hoosier state), Klipsch Audio Technologies (owned by Betsy DeVos’ front man Fred Klipsch), banks, banks, and more banks, and more corporations.
Finally, as I detailed when the grading scandal broke, the Christel House Academy has spent over $70,000 the last few years travelling. For the 2009 calendar year, the school spent $12,000 on travel expenses (see page 10). In the 2010 calendar year, the Christel House Academy wasted another $20,500 on travel (see page 10). Even as the Christel House Academy paid out $15,000 on advertising for the 2011 calendar year, it dished out a staggering $40,000 on travel alone (see page 10 in PDF). No details are given in tax records as to where this travel took place, and it is unclear if this money is coming only from taxpayers or from school fees or other revenue.
We will probably never know. For the attorney general and the public access counselor in Indiana are too busy ruling against Glenda Ritz to do their jobs and give the people of Indiana some real answers for a change.