Tag Archives: Stand for Children

Chalkbeat Indiana Distorts the Truth About IPS Board Election Campaign Funding – Dr. Jim Scheurich

 Originally posted 

November 3, 2016  

on

 Kheprw Institute 


Jim Scheurich, Indianapolis citizen & IUPUI university professor

On Friday, October 28th, the Recorder published an article by McCoy of Chalkbeat Indiana called, “Out-of-state money seems to be skipping the IPS board race.”

Community activists have repeatedly made the point that major money from wealthy individuals and organizations from outside Indiana has poured into the IPS board election.  These activists have suggested that this “outsider” money is being used to “buy” the election for the Stand for Children-Mind Trust supported candidates: Odle, Arnold, O’Connor, and Moore.  (For more indepth info on the Mind Trust-Stand for Children operation, see http://kheprw.org/ips-research-group-presentation-on-the-mind-trust/)

This criticism has made Stand for Children-Mind Trust and their candidates defensive and nervous.  Could they actually lose the election like the Stand for Children candidates in Nashville, Tennessee did because they were violating campaign finance laws by hiding the expenditure of school board campaign funds? (http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/08/04/stand-children-loses-big-nashville-state-races/88047446/)

In response, Indiana Chalkbeat’s article title indicates that out-of-state money is no longer a factor in the IPS election.

This is simply NOT true and is in fact a distortion.

Stand for Children, which claims to be a positive community organization, is both a 501C3 and a 501C4 organization.  Having the 501C4 means Stand for Children, remember, that friendly community organization, can HIDE where money is coming in from and where it is being spent.

Because of the criticism of the Stand for Children-Mind Trust candidates receiving outside the state money for the 2014 election, Stand for Children has substantially decreased outside funds going directly to the candidates.  Instead, it is passing the outsider money through its 501C4 so we the citizens of Indianapolis do not know what it is really up to.

While we cannot say exactly how much Stand for Children is spending on the 2016 election, we do have some reasonable estimates based on the number of mailings they are doing for each of their four candidate and what we know of the cost for such mailings.

In our best and most conservative estimates, we believe Stand for Children is spending around $600,000 on this election.  Around $600,000!!!

 Here’s how we arrived at this estimate.  In 2012, Stand for Children did about 10 mailings for each candidate for four districts.  Each of those mailings cost about $7,000, which means they spend about $70,000 on each of the three district level candidates for a total of $210,000.  We assume they are doing similar for this election.

However, the citywide candidate mailings are much more expensive, somewhere around $30,000 each.  This year they have done at least five completely different ones for Odle, and we expect at least one more prior to the election for a total of $180,000.

If we add all of this together, we get $390,000 just for the mailings.  However, they are also producing yard signs, using other media, etc. so we conservatively estimate they are spending around $600,000, and it could be much more.

Remember in 2010, a citizen of Indianapolis could successfully run for the school board for $3-4,000.  In addition, we doubt that ALL the candidates not supported by Stand for Children and the Mind Trust are spending collectively more than $50,000.

If Chalkbeat Indiana, the Recorder, or any local news outlet wants to prove us wrong, ask Stand for Children, that friendly community organization, to open its books to the public.

Indeed, we would suggest there is a general failure of the local news outlets—like the Star, the Recorder, Nuvo, the TV stations—to investigate this issue.  It would seem to us that the local news outlets have a community responsibility to do this unless they are afraid of the powerful people and organizations backing Stand for Children and the Mind Trust, or the news outlets are being complicit in the hiding of the funding.

Local news outlets, don’t you feel a responsibility to push Stand for Children to open its books, to be transparent about where its money is coming from and how much is being spent on each of its four candidates?

Odle, Arnold, O’Connor, and Moore, what about you all?  If you are as committed to IPS students as you say, let’s make the campaign financing public and transparent.  Tell Stand for Children to open its books.  If you don’t, your so-called commitment to the Indianapolis community and its children is highly questionable.

If no one pushes Stand for Children to open its books, it looks like a bought election.  It looks like democracy is being destroyed by big money kept in the dark.  Dark money for a bought election?

Jim Scheurich is a professor at the IUPUI School of Education.  You can read his bio here.  

How I got here: the sun in my eyes

The 2012 campaign proved to be a pivotal turning point in the history of Indianapolis school board elections.  As my good friend John Harris Loflin delineates in his guest blog post, pre-2012 IPS elections typically raised a couple thousand dollars at best.  The total raised in 2012 for all candidates was over a hundred times that.

Why has the local school board election, which used to cost candidates a few thousand dollars at most, turned into a cut-throat race garnering tens of thousands of dollars?

What happened between the 2010 election and the 2012 election that changed the political landscape?

Enter:  Special Interest Groups.

The heavy hitting funders in the 2012 election, by far, were Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform, which both exploded on the Indianapolis “ed reform” scene between 2010-2012.  You can see their involvement in my campaign finance by reviewing the report here.  A complete list of IPS school board candidates finance reports is also public information – available online.

Why did these Special Interest groups decide to set up shop in Indianapolis?

“The stars had aligned” (Eli Lilly, The Mind Trust, and the Mayor’s office, mainly) to make Indianapolis a very hospitable place for Charter Schools.  Charter Schools, as you know, are in direct competition with traditional public schools (IPS) for students.  Each student who chooses to enroll in a charter school brings more income for that school, so recruiting and advertising is very important…anyway, now that you have introduced this free-market approach to education, schools are beginning to be run like businesses.  Since each student brings in roughly the same amount of funding, if you are in a business, you start to think of things like overhead (rent, electricity, etc) and profit margin.

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The Indiana State Consitution – ARTICLE 8. Education

Section 1. Common school system

Section 1. Knowledge and learning, general diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.

(Hmm…I don’t think the Indiana State Constitution precludes Charter Schools, but it sure doesn’t sound like our forefathers intended for folks to be profiting off of educating our children.)

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Back to my 2012 campaign:

I decided to run in early 2012 for a variety of reasons.  I’m a die-hard eastsider, born, raised, and still here. I am a third generation graduate of IPS schools, K-12.  I sent my child to IPS.  From 2007-2011, I taught in IPS as a Special Education teacher.  Product, Parent, Employee.  I had multiple perspectives to bring to the table, but the most pressing one was the need for change I saw as a teacher in IPS elementary schools.  To highlight several of the most pressing issues:

  • The overarching need for our schools to have more autonomy, based on the fact that teachers and principals know the needs of their students better than folks at the district level (no more top down, one size fits all mandates)
  • Teachers need to be freed from constrictive pedagogy focused on passing tests – teaching at its best is an art designed to inspire young minds (UGH! no more Pacing Guides to tell me what to teach by the week, day, and hour)
  • Curriculum focused on teaching to the test ensures a failure rate of about half of the student population if you assume a normal bell curve distrubution
  • Parents, on the most basic level, have the right to choose where to send their children to school
  • In 2012, I felt that a change in IPS leadership was overdue and absolutely necessary

None of these principles which were a part of my campaign platform, have changed.  I still believe these things as I did in 2011-2012 when I campaigned for this seat.

What has changed:  I am no longer as naive about how this game called politics works.  After two years of connecting the political dots, I have come to realize that most of these people are in each other’s back pockets.  Now, hindsight is 20/20, and I’m seeing things for what they really are.  The IPS board has been purchased by ed-reform groups, most notably Stand for Children.  Some seats they didn’t have to purchase, because some people ran unopposed in 2012.  But the ed-reform ideology perpetuates all board members except myself…and Stand for Children has been the largest / most consistent campaign contributor.

I guess they tried to buy my vote.  They were not successful, if that was their goal.

I weigh every single decision I make on its own merits.  I have not been afraid to be critical of decisions that warrant criticism.  I don’t care if I piss you off…I’m really not here to make friends.  I will continue to advocate for the children and the district that I love, unafraid, until my time on the school board is over.  I will continue to think critically about decisions and when concerns arise, I will continue to share those concerns in a very public way.  I will serve in the capacity that an elected official should – not merely glossing over and rubber stamping everything the Superintendent wants – but truly striving to represent MY community.  After all, their votes elected me.  They are my constituents.  I am their voice.

As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please email me:

gayle_cosby@yahoo.com