Buying Mayor Ballard: More Truth About the Project School Closing

Mayor of Indy Gregory B. Mayor of Indy Gregory B.

Mayor of Indy Gregory B.

In my last piece, The Truth about the Project School Closing: The Indiana Corporate School Complex,” I noted how Indy mayor Greg Ballard was promoting a school privatizing movement full of crony capitalism, propaganda, and lots of money, one at odds with the community-led/social justice Project School. Therefore, the fact that Ballard, last year, accepted tons of money in campaign donations from those associated with Indiana’s corporate school movement should come as no surprise. Below are the corporate school people and front-groups slipping cash into Ballard’s suit pockets.

TONY BENNETT, WALMART, AND AMWAY

First off, Tony Bennett, supt. of Indiana corporate schools, is a big Ballard fan.  The Bennett for Indiana PAC gave Ballard $2,500 in 2011 (110)*. And mega-Bennett donor and popcorn “entrepreneur” Mike Weaver donated $10,000 to the Indy mayor (92). Brian Bosma, who head-honchoed the corporate school agenda in legislation, used his PAC to donate $5,000 to Ballard last year (111).

Then there’s the Walmart/Amway/hedge fund money. Last year, Fred Klipsch slid Ballard $5,000 (50). Klipsch is Indiana’s man (see page 14 in PDF box) for the Betsy DeVos/ Walmart front group American Federation for Children, whose national board includes Democrats for Education Reform’s Boykin Curry, Walmart family heir Carrie Walton Penner, and former Hoosier Kevin Chavous. AFC funneled millions of corporate money into Indiana and other states to help wipe out education in 2010 and 2011, and Klipsch, who owns his own headphone company, was working at the time for  School Choice Indiana, the Hoosiers for Economic Growth Network, the Educational Choice Charitable Trust, and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s education committee.

THE MIND TRUST AND THE STATE CHARTER SCHOOL BOARD

Mind Trust cronies are also funding Ballard.

A former Mind Trust board member, a community development and education consultant to the Lilly Endowment, and a past Teach for America Indiana board chair, Anne Shane gave Ballard $4,750 in 2011 (78). Shane also donated to Tony Bennett’s 2008 campaign for Indiana superintendent of public instruction. David Shane, her husband, also sits on the Mind Trust’s board of directors.

Bill Shrewsberry’s Indy consulting firm gave Ballard $3,500 (117).  Not only is Shrewsberry a member of the Mind Trust, he also sits on the Indiana charter school board, the state’s charter school authorizer.

Todd Huston, another Indiana charter school board member, spared $500 for Ballard (41). Huston profits from products sold to K-12 schools, sits on the board of HoosierED.com (sponsored by the sellouts at the U of Indy’s CELL), was employed by Bennett and the IDOE up until 2010, and once sat on Daniels’ uneducated state board of education, notorious for plagiarizers and groupies of the Business Roundtable’s school privatizing agenda.

LILLY AND BALLARD’S CORPORATE EDUCATION INNOVATION

John Lechleiter, chairman, CEO, and president of Eli Lilly and Company, gave Ballard $3,500, and his wife, Sarah, also gave $2,500 (54).

John Mutz also loaded up Ballard’s anti-public school war-chest, with $8,500 (65). Mutz, like Daniels and Bart Peterson, is a Lilly grad.  A past trustee for the Hudson Institute, former lieutenant governor of Indiana, previous Conseco official, and one-time president of PSI Energy, Mutz was Lilly Endowment’s president from 1989-1993. He was also a director at the GEO Foundation’s 21st Century Charter School, an Indianapolis Charter Schools Board member, and co-chair of another billionaire Betsy DeVos-run front-group, All Children Matter, in Indiana. From 2002-2010, Mutz chaired the Lumina Foundation for Education, the STEM/global-workforce-myth promoting group with a national reach. He now sits on Lumina’s board, directs the for-profit Clarian Health Ventures, and is on CID Equity Partners’ advisory board in Indiana.

Mutz now is a member of Ballard’s Education Innovation committee.

BAKER & DANIELS & DANIELS

FaegreBD Consulting’s D.C. lobbyist David Gogel gave Ballard $2,000 in 2011 (31).  FaegreBD is a branch of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.  The firm’s Nick Weber directs its “mayor-sponsored charter school operations.” Weber, in fact, was Ballard’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development until joining FaegreBD. He is also Conexus Indiana’s past vice president of outreach and communications. Conexus Indiana promotes STEM programs to train workers for roles in the U.S. war industry. Year-to-date records say Weber in 2011 gave Ballard $800 (93).

Libby Baney, who worked on Indianapolis charter school initiatives at one point, now works for B & D Consulting, which is another branch of Baker and Daniels LLP, which merged into Faegre Baker Daniels LLP this year. Baker & Daniels gave Ballard $6,000 in 2011 (109).  Baker & Daniels members are part of the board of KIPP Indy, the Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School; the Mind Trust’s David Shane used to work at the law firm.

Deborah Daniels, Mitch’s sister, dished out $2,000 for the mayor in 2011 (21).

ACCOUNTABILITY

That, in total, is around $57,000 in corporate school movement money for the year 2011. When the mayor speaks of “accountability,” we now know who he is “accountable” to. It’s not the children at The Project School; it’s the adults of the Indiana Corporate School Complex.

NOTE

* The mayor’s last campaign listing, December 2011, can be found here.  All numbers listed above refer to page numbers in the PDF box of that document.

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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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