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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mass Insight into Evansville: Gates, Broad, and Joyce in Indiana

By Doug Martin

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation is fighting to keep its recently hired Boston-based Mass Insight Education turnaround company.  Mass Insight Education was hired last school year for $600,000 to help “turn around” Glenwood’s Leadership Academy and four other schools in the corporation which have received poor grades over the last few years. 

According to a recent State Impact Indiana story, Mass Insight Education isn't too happy about the state department of education looking too closely into its gig, calling another “lead partner” in the Evansville schools as “just more noise.” 
Mass Insight Education knows quite a bit about "noise," working hard to cover up that its corporate-sponsored school turnaround program has a dismal track record.  Using the Arne Duncan/Bill Gates/Eli Broad school privatization playbook, Mass Insight moves into states (often with the help of government officials), gets outlandish financial contracts at various schools, fires teachers and principals, and spreads its fake magic.

As Jim Horn has written here at Schools Matter, Mass Insight gets funding from the same corporations that helped Obama set up the Race to the Top rules.  Although over 80% of its funding comes from taxpayers (see line 14 in page 14 in PDF), Mass Insight is subsidized by Bill Gates (best known for promoting the Common Core takeover of education), billionaire Obama-campaign donor Eli Broad (who trains business leaders to "lead" public schools), Exxon Mobile, the Susan and Michael Dell Foundation, the charter school funding Barr Foundation, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the latter which Hannah Bell notes was “originally involved in the student loan biz,” and “spun off that biz which was snapped up by for-profit Sallie Mae.”
Mass Insight Education has some out-of-state friends who pushed the school privatization agenda in Indiana, too.  Mass Insight received $100,000 in Joyce Foundation money in 2012.  If we remember, the Joyce Foundation (where Obama used to be a "community organizer") and the Mind Trust funded corporate hedge fund front group Stand for Children to move into Indiana and pass bills to throw teachers under the bus in 2011.

William Guenther, who owns Mass Insight Education, is a very happy boy.  In fact, in 2012, he raked in over $400,000. 
In Connecticut, Mass Insight worked with Gov. Malloy, a Democrat, for a school privatization coup.  In fact, Mass Insight’s Justin Cohen, the former Edison Schools employee and senior advisor to Michelle Rhee when she destroyed DC public schools as chancellor, praised the school turnaround agenda in his testimony for Senate Bill 24 in Connecticut in 2012 and spoke at one of the governor’s education summits at Connecticut State University.  Malloy’s government then turned around this year and handed Mass Insight—which also does lobbying—almost $124,000 with even more money to flow to the group, as Jonathan Pelto details.     

Well-respected education blogger Gary Rubinstein said this about Mass Insight’s horrible track record of doing anything with its turnaround schools except take public money: “On their School Turnaround Group [website] they list eight successful ‘turnarounds’ from around the country. Ironically, these eight ‘turnarounds’ were led by companies other than Mass Insight, but as Mass Insight doesn’t seem to want to put its own record up to scrutiny, they use these case studies to show the sorts of strategies that Mass Insight employs in its own turnarounds.”
Rubinstein has also found that Mass Insight pulled in $75 million from six different states in 2010. 

The Evansville, Indiana, community is meeting next week to discuss what to do about its so-called “failing” schools.  Parents, teachers, and school leaders should be aware that the turnaround school model is a scam to get taxpayer money.  They should also be aware that the State Board of Education in Indiana has a say-so in whether or not to intervene into the Evansville situation and/or to allow the Gates, Joyce, Broad buddies at Mass Insight Education to continue its “turnaround” scheme.  Since most state board members are pro-school privatization, we know what side they will be on.
Many teachers have jumped ship, and I wish the ones still in Evansville well.  And my suggestion is simple: Evansville needs to get rid of Mass Insight Education and send it shipping back to its billionaire supporters.

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