Thankfully, the IPS school board recently voted against a contract with T3/Teach Plus. Supported by Stand for Children and funded in part by $1 million of Eli Lilly Foundation money, the Teach Plus Turnaround Teacher Teams or T3 program contract would not have done much for teachers. Note this from the IPS school board press release:
During the course of our special meeting attention was drawn to the fact that one of our board members, Caitlin Hannon, is the Executive Director for Teach Plus, the education company which is spearheading the effort to implement this initiative into three of our schools. Ms. Hannon recused herself from the vote, however, ethical questions have been raised regarding a $2 million dollar contract for T3 and its parent company Teach Plus over a period of four years. Of the $2.2 million, 24 teachers in 3 schools would receive a total of $432,000. Each teacher would receive $6000 per year for their leadership service.The T3 program had already been implemented without board approval. So board president Annie Roof recently called a special session, where board members voted against approving the contract.
Ironically, corporate school reformers now are calling this vote political, but the real politics rest with Caitlin Hannon. Teach Plus’ tax records don’t tell how much local executive directors like Hannon make, but Hannon’s relationship with Teach Plus as a member of the IPS school board is a major conflict of interest, as I even noted in my book Hoosier School Heist. Hannon has been funded by the hedge-fund front group Democrats for Education Reform, Al Hubbard, the Bush family friend and chief operative of corporate school reform in Indiana, and even Greg Penner, who is married to Walmart’s Carrie Walton.
The vote was a win for the students, teachers, and citizens of Indianapolis and Indiana. Here is the entire press release from a few members of the IPS school board on the T3/Teach Plus contract vote:
Indianapolis – Last night’s IPS School Board vote regarding the T3 Initiative program merits explanation.At the IPS board action session on October 21, 2014, the T3 Initiative was presented for action. After some discussion, the board was advised (incorrectly) that this item had been approved previously. Upon discovering the fact that it was never approved, but nonetheless implemented without board approval approximately six months ago, a special meeting was called to address the misinformation and lack of initial board ratification.
At the special meeting on October 29, 2014 the majority of the board members present took action to rescind the original vote which was made based on incorrect information. This action drew sharp reactions from the community.
Some media outlets used the word “dumping” to describe our actions. The board felt it necessary to rescind the original vote, but also noted in our public meeting that the issue would be brought back before the board with complete transparency. We are open to revisiting the terms of the agreement to find a solution that works best for our schools, and for the teacher leaders who have already begun assuming a leadership role (although it was unbeknownst to them, without board approval).
During the course of our special meeting attention was drawn to the fact that one of our board members, Caitlin Hannon, is the Executive Director for Teach Plus, the education company which is spearheading the effort to implement this initiative into three of our schools. Ms. Hannon recused herself from the vote, however, ethical questions have been raised regarding a $2 million dollar contract for T3 and its parent company Teach Plus over a period of four years. Of the $2.2 million, 24 teachers in 3 schools would receive a total of $432,000. Each teacher would receive $6000 per year for their leadership service.Media sources report Mr. Ohlemiller of Stand for Children suggests that this vote sends a message to philanthropic organizations that their funding support is not welcome in IPS. What this vote actually represents is that IPS will not see the charitable contributions intended to help our struggling schools, being made to expensive consultant organizations, their employees and overhead costs. One has to wonder if these philanthropic organizations know that only a fraction of their charitable dollars are being directed to the Teacher Leaders charged with executing this program.
We will never build our own capacity within Indianapolis Public Schools if the bulk of our dollars are spent to engage outside organizations.
The empowerment of teachers is something this entire board agrees on. This contract, as it is currently constituted, is not fair, nor is it equitable for IPS. All we ask is for the time to review a deal that will cost IPS $750,000 to implement so that we can make sure our dollars are being directed to the classrooms, students and teachers, rather than the pockets of Teach Plus and T3 executives. If we are being asked to vote in a program that will cost the district a significant amount of money, the least that could be done is to provide us with enough time and information to make an informed decision. The constituents of Indianapolis elected this body to be a representative vote for the people of our districts, our city, our schools, our teachers and our children. We were not elected to be a rubber stamp for companies to reap wild profit margins from our Indianapolis’ taxpayer-funded public schools.We are thankful that Stand For Children, Teach Plus and other organizations want to help ensure a high quality education for the children of Indianapolis. However, each time anybody disagrees with one of these entities, they use their significant funds and resources to silence our concerns. In turn, we are then accused of playing politics. Don’t be fooled by who is politicizing the IPS School Board.
Sincerely,Gayle Cosby, Samantha Adair-White, Michael Brown and Board President Annie Roof