An Unhealthy Fixation?

Editor’s note–this is especially compelling coming on the heels of the I-Read 3 results (see the last “success” listed for TB below).

FROM: Doug Martin

TO: Indiana Select Commission on Education

Dear Indiana Select Commission on Education:

A recently leaked email details how Jeb Bush advisor Patricia Levesque is begging her friends and fellow Bush operatives (Mary Laura Bragg, Jaryn Emholf, Alexis Franz, Nadia Hagberg, etc.) in the corporate school movement to blast your commission with emails supporting Tony Bennett. I strongly advise you to disregard any Bennett-promoting propaganda coming from Florida with or without an @excelined.org address.

If you don’t know or can’t remember who Levesque is (or haven’t been promised campaign money from those associated with her), let me refresh your memory. Levesque directs Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education and his Foundation for Florida’s Future, two groups marketing charter schools, virtual education, and the fake parent trigger law.  Levesque is proud that as the current board of director of Bush’s corporate school organizations, she doesn’t take a paycheck, but this is deceptive. Levesque’s own consulting company, Meridian Strategies, raked in $100,000 in 2008 (page 8) and $123,000 in 2009 working for the Foundation for Excellence in Education (page 8).  For work with Foundation for Florida’s Future, where Levesque is also executive director, her company made $276,000 in 2010 (page 8).

Let down by the Florida assembly’s failure to pass more bills to help school privateers, Levesque, who also lobbies on behalf of many virtual schools, outlined a new strategy in October 2010  at a school reform conference to privatize public schools. in article entitled “How Outline Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools,” The Nation’s Lee Fang writes that:

Levesque noted that reform efforts had failed because the opposition had time to organize. Next year, Levesque advised, reformers should “spread” the unions thin “by playing offense” with decoy legislation. Levesque said she planned to sponsor a series of statewide reforms, like allowing taxpayer dollars to go to religious schools by overturning the so-called Blaine Amendment, “even if it doesn’t pass…to keep them busy on that front.” She also advised paycheck protection, a unionbusting scheme, as well as a state-provided insurance program to encourage teachers to leave the union and a transparency law to force teachers unions to show additional information to the public. Needling the labor unions with all these bills, Levesque said, allows certain charter bills to fly “under the radar.”

Levesque, mistakenly I imagine, is worried your Select Commission will come down too hard on Tony Bennett, writing that “behind the scenes we have learned that the legislature will likely rake Tony over the coals.” I wish this were the case. As more Hoosiers are becoming attuned to, Bennett isn’t in charge of Indiana education. Jeb Bush, Betsy Devos’ front group, American Federation for Children, and many others are. As Bush’s head of Chiefs for Change,  Bennett is merely doing the dirty work for the top 1% that want to set up a for-profit educational system across this country. The corporate school supt.’s new campaign money tells some of the story. Writing just today, Steve Hinnefeld has traced more Bennett money to several hedge fund operators, Jeb Bush’s buddies at Charter Schools USA  and others out to destroy Indiana public education. Recently, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette’s Karen Francisco noted that “Edward D. Easton, a Miami-based real estate official who was part of Jeb Bush’s campaign finance team. Easton donated $1,000 to Bennett’s re-election effort.” Bennett only appears to be “calling the shots,” to use his own basketball terminology.

Levesque, in her email, writes: “Would you take a moment to email the commission members (attached is a list of the email addresses for the commission members)? The message should be focused on policy, not the person of Tony Bennett. But it would be good for these members to hear from folks outside of Indiana…” Levesque even lays  out various talking points to address to your commission:

Also, here is a really short summary of the work Tony has done with the Legislature as a partner in the past 3 years. Feel free to pick out issues to
include in your emails.

  • Modernizing the teaching profession – including alternative routes to certification for teachers, tying student data to teacher evaluations, eliminating LIFO and ending tenure as they know it
  • Complete overhaul of the state funding formula
  • Statewide scholarships for low-income students to go to the private school of their choice
  • Charter school expansion and accountability
  • A-F school grade accountability
  • Reading for learning – a focus on early literacy and end to social promotion in the third grade

More Hoosiers daily are starting to understand the deception and greed behind it all, and we don’t want Levesque, Bush, or any of the other corporate school reformers from Florida or elsewhere lobbying in our state. If you are interested in the fraud, mismanagement, and waste in Florida’s charter schools, voucher program, and other corporate school programs, take a quick glance at Bob Sike’s education blog. I also highly suggest you read my research concerning Jeb Bush’s influence in Indiana education.

If Indiana legislators want to save their political careers, now is the time to come out in full force against Bennett, Bush, and others who only want to turn education into a state-mandated, for-profit mess.

***

To read the Levesque email in its entirety, please see Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education’s blog post here.

Further Reading:  March 2, 2012 Tenure Perches in the Soul

Select Commission on Education- Indiana

200 West Washington Street, Suite 301Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2789 Tel: (317) 233-0696 Fax: (317) 232-2554

Members:

Rep. Robert Behning, Co-Chairperson h91@IN.gov
Rep. Rhonda Rhoads, Rep. Timothy Brown h70@IN.gov
Rep. Edward Clere h72@IN.gov
Rep. David Frizzell h93@IN.gov
Rep. Kathleen Heuer h83@IN.gov
Rep. Cindy Noe h87@IN.gov
Rep. Jeffrey Thompson h28@IN.gov
Rep. Greg Porter h96@IN.gov
Rep. David Cheatham h69@IN.gov
Rep. Clyde Kersey h43@IN.gov
Rep. Vernon Smith h14@IN.gov
Rep. Shelli Vandenburgh h19@IN.gov
Sen. Dennis Kruse, Co-Chairperson Senator.Kruse@iga.in.gov
Sen. Carlin Yoder Senator.Yoder@iga.in.gov
Sen. James Banks Senator.Banks@iga.in.gov
Sen. James Buck Senator.Buck@iga.in.gov
Sen. Luke Kenley Senator.Kenley@iga.in.gov
Sen. Jean Leising Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov
Sen. Scott Schneider Senator.Schneider@iga.in.gov
Sen. Earline Rogers S3@iga.in.gov
Sen. Frank Mrvan s1@iga.in.gov
Sen. Timothy Skinner s38@iga.in.gov

Related posts:

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A Walt Whitman scholar, Doug Martin is the author of the upcoming Hoosier School Heist to be published this year by Brooks Publications. His teaching experience has covered K-graduate school. His exposures of corporate education reform have appeared or been referenced in Diane Ravitch's Blog, Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, the Associated Press, Schools Matter, Parents Across America blog, Charter School Scandals, Susan Ohanian's Testing Atrocities and Outrages, @ The Chalk Face, The Huntington Teacher, KochWatch.org, Peg with Pen, the NPR/State Impact Florida, NPR/State Impact Indiana, the Pulp (Broward-Palm Beach New Times), Big Education Ape, School Matters (Indiana), A Teacher's Fight, Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education blog, NUVO, the Indianapolis Star, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Scathing Purple Musings, Terre Haute's Tribune Star, the Times of Northwest Indiana, the Post-Tribune, HoosierEd.com, and Firedoglake, among others. Doug currently blogs at Jim Horn's Schools Matter (http://www.schoolsmatter.info/). You can find more of Doug's writings at: http://my.firedoglake.com/dougmartin

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