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

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Daniels-Lumina-ALEC-Sallie Mae-Purdue-Gallup Index: What Everyone Needs to Know

As a means to hold Purdue and other universities “accountable,” Mitch Daniels, in late December, announced the Purdue-Gallup Index which will track how well students in higher education fit into the US workforce.  Anyone who followed Daniels' corporate school agenda while he was governor (or anyone following the corporate school leaders anywhere, for that matter) understands that using false measurements is a way to slash art teachers’ jobs and classes, fire teachers to create a temporary teaching workforce, turn schools completely over to private companies, and train workers for an imaginary workforce so that those who do land jobs will be paid pennies because of a flooded market. Now Daniels, Barack Obama, and others are starting to use the same disaster capitalism tactics on higher-education.  One only needs to look at the Lumina Foundation for Education, the main group funding the Purdue-Gallup Index to get a clue what this is all about.  
The Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education has $1.4 billion in assets and is a major player in the quest to completely privatize higher education across the country. A private outfit, Lumina promotes the skills-gap myth nonstop so that the public schools at all levels can be turned into workforce training grounds so corporations don’t have to pay their own money to train workers. 

But the group has even more sinister motives. Lumina was founded when the USA Group sold one billion dollars of student loan debt to Sallie Mae.  Lumina's board chair is John Lintzenich, USA Group's former CEO and former CEO of Sallie Mae. Part of Lumina’s Goals 2025 plan is to have 60 percent of Americans acquire college degrees, which will no doubt increase the profit of student loan lenders like Sallie Mae, which is still a funder of Lumina (watch at 13:46 here).

And Mitch Daniels, Purdue's president, has many ties to Lumina.


From 2002-2010, John Mutz chaired the Lumina Foundation, now still sits on its board, directs the for-profit Clarian Health Ventures, and is on CID Equity Partners’ advisory board in Indiana. Mutz has spent over $100,000 funding the campaigns of Mitch Daniels, Daniels' Aiming Higher PAC, Tony Bennett, Todd Rokita, and Indiana Republicans, and in 2011 handed $5,000 to Mike Pence.

A past trustee for the Friedmanite and former-Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, former lieutenant governor of Indiana, previous Conseco official (Conseco has had its fair-share of corruption, as I point out in Hoosier School Heist), and one-time president of PSI Energy, Mutz was Lilly Endowment’s president from 1989-1993. He was also a director at the rightwing GEO Foundation’s 21st Century Charter School (tons of good dirt in my book on GEO), an Indianapolis Charter Schools Board member, and co-chair and funder of the billionaire Betsy DeVos-run front-group, All Children Matter, in Indiana. In 2006, All Children Matter was fined $5.2 million for funneling corporate school reform cash into Ohio, but that didn’t stop them from using Citizens United and Terre Haute lawyer James Bopp, Jr. to do the same dirty work to buy out legislators in Indiana and several other states a few years ago. 

And that was when the attack on Indiana schools truly began.
Alongside hedge fund managers calling themselves Democrats and Daniels and Bush family operative and current Lumina board member Al Hubbard (who used Jeb Bush and Betsy DeVos to write the corporate school agenda in Indiana before even Tony Bennett was aware of it), John Mutz helped buy out the Indianapolis Public School board race, so that the rich could carry on their school privatization in Indianapolis, regardless.
In October 2012, along with Eli Lilly, the Joyce Foundation (the school privatization outfit where Obama used to work), and Enron’s Arnold family, the Lumina Foundation financed Indy Mayor Ballard’s corporate school blueprint What’s Possible. 
Lumina Foundation and Eli Lilly both have operatives at Indiana University’s Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, named after our good buddy Randall.  Randall Tobias, a big Mitch Daniels funder and one-time Eli Lilly 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 is a dear friend of multi-millionaire Christel DeHaan and helped raise money for her charter school franchise.  One of DeHaan’s charter schools recently received an “F” grade even though Tony Bennett rigged it the year before to make DeHaan, his campaign lady, happy. 


Recently, the Lumina Foundation gave $150,000 to the Aspen Institute, which has Koch Brothers’ David Koch and Condi Rice, among others, on its board.  The Aspen Institute made its name as an anti-public school mega-rich outfit when Stand for Children’s Jonah Edelman bragged at an Aspen event about using hedge fund managers to buy out Democrats in Illinois to throw teachers and students under the bus.
This year, Lumina slid $75,000 to Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation’s Arc Leadership Award, too, and Lumina has  funded the Bill Clinton-privatization spin-off think tank the New American Foundation and dozens of shady groups involved in higher education. 
In order to land a seat on its Education Task Force in 2008, Lumina gave $300,000 to the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, to kick in gear the complete privatization of state universities across America.  The Badger Democracy Blog (in an article worth reading in its entirety) points out that Lumina’s talking points of making it possible for every American to get a good college education is just a smokescreen.  Lumina’s “Four Steps to Finishing First” is a scheme to tie university performance to state funding, run universities like businesses, make faculty and staff pay more for their health plans, and spread online learning onto campuses.
Recently, Governor Scott Walker used Lumina to map the University of Wisconsin System's new online learning program, among other things, to beef up the “ALEC and neo-con, corporatic agenda to create a crisis" and "defund public education.”  
By founding and funding the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy (IHELP) located at Sacramento State University in order to disseminate negative and false data and reports to the media, Lumina was also behind the corporate-driven California Community College Board of Governors task force on Student Success report, which led to a bill signed into law by Governor Brown recently.
Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in July 2012, Eric Kelderman says that
“Lumina's change in focus doesn't mean that the organization will be spending less money, he [Lumina’s leader Jamie P. Merisotis] said. In fact, the foundation will expand its efforts by convening business leaders, lawmakers, higher-education groups, and faculty members to build consensus on specific policy measures.
In addition, he [Lumina’s leader Jamie P. Merisotis] said, Lumina will draft model policies for states, including legislation. The group is already working with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative-leaning organization, to write and introduce bills in statehouses.”

We all know how the ALEC-corporate party went down in Indiana's public schools, and now it's time for the universities to be dismantled.
Sarah Blaskey and Steve Horn sum up best the Lumina plan for Purdue and other universities:
NCSL [National Conference of State Legislatures} has received over $1 million since 2007 from the Lumina Foundation to push the higher education privatization effort in the states. By contrast, ALEC has received $595,000 since 2008 from Lumina, all according to Lumina's web site's section on grants.
The funding stream behind Lumina's existence speaks volumes about the higher education agenda it is pushing. "Lumina Foundation is a conversion foundation created in mid-2000 as USA Group, Inc., the nation's largest private guarantor and administrator of education loans, sold most of its operating assets to Sallie Mae," explains Lumina on its web site.
Sallie Mae, lo and behold, gave nearly $21 billion dollars in student loans in fiscal year 2009, feasting on skyrocketing student tuition fees, which are directly linked to the "flexibility" efforts the foundation Sallie Mae bankrolls is pushing through NCSL (and ALEC).
In the meantime, scores of students are defaulting on these student loans.




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