Although the local powers-that-be who funded the members who won the Indianapolis Public School board 2014 election are well known and mentioned in my book Hoosier School Heist (Al Hubbard, David Harris, Bart Peterson, the Chamber, Eli Lilly’s John Lechleiter, Anne Shane, and Christel DeHaan of Tony Bennett scandal fame, to name a few), some of the wealthy outsiders who bought the IPS board in 2014 are relatively new to Indiana. These new funders last year loaded the campaign chests of IPS candidates LaNier Echols (Carpe Diem charter school’s dean), Mary Ann Sullivan (former lawmaker and present Democrats for Education Reform national board member), and Kelly Bentley (Democrat for Education Reform member), who were all elected.But the IPS board race was just one buyout for these newest IPS wealthy funders. In fact, these same well-to-do out-of-staters have been buying mayors, governors, and school boards all across the US to further the school privatizing agenda.
Some of these campaign donors, it appears, mean to cement in place Rocketship and KIPP Indy, which are both scheduled to open a dozen charter schools in Indy in the next few years.
Another wealthy campaign contributor is surely hoping to plant his affiliated charter school francize, Achievement First, in Indianapolis in the near future.
Many of these wealthy funders, too, are tied to Stand for America, a group which was not required to tell taxpayers the exact cash it dished out to buy the IPS board seats for Sullivan, Echols, and Bentley (see Amos Brown's excellent write-up on this here), although Alternet’s Anna Simonton claims that Stand for Children’s “nonprofit and political arm… together spent over $21 million last year in order to elect 78 state-level and 15 district-level “’education champions.’”All in all, Simonton traces some of the out-of-state funders behind IPS’ 2014 election as part of a vast movement by the extremely wealthy to recently buy school boards in New Orleans, Denver, and Los Angeles. Let’s look at a few other cities besides these that the IPS board donors have infiltrated.
BAIN CAPITAL AND THE BLOOMBERGS
Although I mention Bain Capital (started by Mitt Romney) and Stand for Children’s cozy relationship in Hoosier School Heist, it was the recently retired managing director of Bain, Mark Nunnelly, who helped elect school privatizers to the IPS school board and many other public school boards across the country.Mark Nunnelly gave $1,000 to Kelly Bentley, $1,000 to LaNier Echols, and $1,500 to Mary Ann Sullivan’s campaigns. Nunnelly also has supported Stand for Children and funded the Black Alliance for Educational Options/DFER Newark mayor Cory Booker, all mentioned in my book.
Nunnelly is on the board of directors of KIPP charter schools with Emma Bloomberg, the daughter of former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. Emma is chairman of the board of Stand for Children’s national outfit. With Mind Trust help, KIPP Indy is scheduled to open several new schools in Indianapolis.Emma Bloomberg played a role in the DC state board of education election, and she chairs the Teach for America-founded Leadership for Educational Equity, the group which gave $5,000 to LaNier Echols, the IPS candidate who also received $650 (see page 3) from TV show princess and major anti-teacher tenure operative Campbell Brown. And if all of this were not enough, former mayor Michael Bloomberg, upset over lost money to Tony Bennett’s 2012 campaign, pulled through a few days before the IPS board election and gifted Mary Ann Sullivan $2,500.
BIG OIL GIRL TO THE RESCUEThe daughter of a rich Oklahoma oilman, billionaire Stacey Schusterman is the CEO of Samson Energy a real estate leader, and a supporter of Stand for Children. She gave $500 (page 10) to Mary Ann Sullivan’s IPS campaign last year and $1,500 (page 6) to Bentley’s.
Along with Walmart’s Carrie Walton Penner (whose husband Greg, as I point out in Hoosier School Heist, helped buy the IPS board election of 2012), Schusterman sits on the board of the Charter School Growth Fund. Besides dismantling public education in her own state, along with Achievement First trustee Jonathan Sackler, Schusterman funded Marshall Tuck for the superintendent’s office in California, the young and handsome corporate darling who, despite tons of money, lost the election.Hedge fund manager Alan Fournier didn’t have to worry about funding the IPS board race last year, as he did in 2012. Schusterman took his place, and they both worked together to influence the New Jersey school board race last November, too.
Schusterman also gave $25,000 to Stand for Children’s election campaign in Washington state in 2012.
LINKEDIN WITH FACEBOOKBillionaire LinkedIn’s CEO Reid Hoffman and his wife Michelle Yee each gave $1,000 to Kelly Bentley (page 6), $1,000 (page 4) a piece to LaNier Echols, and $1,000 each to Mary Ann Sullivan’s IPS board campaign (page 2).
Hoffman and Yee funded Tobias Read’s campaign, an Oregon state representative who was one of the sponsors of a charter school bill which passed in 2011.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg helped Tobias Read, too, for he used to work with her and Larry Summers in Bill Clinton’s Administration. Summers, if we remember, helped set the rules to deregulate Wall Street which led to the big crash of 2008.
Sheryl Sandberg is a member of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Along with Intel’s Arthur Rock, Sandberg funded a school board member for the Duval County Florida school board race last year. And Sandberg, Rock, Greg Penner (Carrie Walton’s husband who helped buy the IPS school board in 2012), were behind the school board privatization movement in Atlanta recently, too, supporting four candidates who were elected. As Alternet’s Anna Simonton writes:
[Arthur] Rock is not the only name on the reports with financial power and a less than obvious connection to Atlanta Public Schools. Greg Penner of the Walmart empire, Dave Goldberg of the Sheryl Sandberg empire (they’re married), and Kent Thiry of the DaVita kidney dialysis empire (it sounds inglorious, but he pulls in $17 million annually), are among the names that had some Atlantans scratching their heads this election season.
Billionaire Arthur Rock (a board member of TFA’s Leadership for Educational Equity), Greg Penner, and Alan Fournier (who gave money to IPS school board candidates in 2012), among others, poured money into a small town school board race in New Jersey recently.And Rock and Bain Capital’s Mark Nunnelly also helped buy school privatization during a school board race in California.
Arthur Rock gave $5,000 to LaNier Echols’ campaign (page 3)
PUTTING SACKLER’S ACHIEVEMENT FIRST FIRST, REGARDLESS OF ZIPCODEIn 2014, investment manager and real estate mogul Jonathan Sackler handed Mary Ann Sullivan $2,500.
Sackler, a board member of the New Schools Venture Fund privatizing outfit, is the trustee at Achievement First, a nationwide charter school managing organization. He is also a director at 50CAN, a corporate school group funded, in various states, by Bill Gates, the Bush Foundation, Arthur Rock, the Walton Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and many others involved in privatizing Indiana schools.Along with Arthur Rock and other IPS board donors, Sackler threw money into the Minnesota school board race last year, as well. Beth Hawkins, at MinnPost, writes that “The Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund has received $100,000 from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, $90,000 from Teach for America board member Arthur Rock and $25,000 from Jon Sackler, who sits on the boards of the education advocacy groups 50CAN and Students for Education Reform”.
Sarah Lahm, from In These Times, gives us a hint at what is going on here. Keep in mind that Rocketship is set to operate in Indianapolis, and Arthur Rock, Facebook’s Sandberg, and others partner with that charter school company:
What do investors like Bloomberg, Rock and Sackler stand to gain by pouring money into the Minneapolis school board race? While national charter school chains such as Rocketship do not operate here, the city’s school district recently entered into the state’s first-ever “district-charter compact” with local charter school chain Hiawatha Leadership Academies. This compact was borne out of a 2010 District-Charter Collaboration Compact signed by Minneapolis Public School administrators, local politicians and charter school operators. In the future, Minneapolis Public Schools spokesperson Myrle Croasdale tells In These Times, the district is “open to developing partnerships with outside stakeholders.” Perhaps this willingness helps to explain how the Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund has attracted such big-dollar outside support for school board candidates.
Sackler, in fact, even bought the Providence, Rhode Island, Obama-supported mayor, giving over $25,000 to Democratic Jorge Elorza in 2014, who won the election. Elorza “sat on the board of the Achievement First Mayoral Academy until he entered the race for mayor.”Sackler and others actually own Connecticut governor Dan Mallory, as Jonathan Pelto has noted time and time again, and 50CAN influenced the Bridgeport, Conn. Board of education election, too.
For the Austin, Texas, school board race, Sackler helped IPS board funders Schusterman, Nunnelly, Campbell Brown, and the Leadership for Educational Equity.As a side-note, Tindley charter school’s Marcus Robinson sits on the board of directors of the Achievement First Charter Network Accelerator.
MORE HEDGE FUND DEMOCRATSThe hedge fund manager front group DFER also played a role in the IPS race. National board member Mary Ann Sullivan was helped by Democrats for Education Reform, which handed over $1,100 (page 10), and DFER’s Joe Williams (detailed in Hoosier School Heist), gave $250 (page 14). Education Reform Now, which is closely tied to DFER, gave Bentley $600, and DFER gave her $1,100 (page 6).
For more insight and campaign funding details on the IPS board race of 2014, see Gary Welsh’s excellent blog post here.