Tuesday, December 20

Don't Worry. Some Wealthy White People Are On Their Way To Help You.

OUR story so far: in the 1920s the Indiana Klan took over state government. It's often noted that the Indiana Klan--which separated itself from the national Klan, probably so it wouldn't have to remit 10% of its rape victims to the home office--was more anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant than anti-black. (In my youth I would occasionally hear this factlet recounted as though the speaker was convinced they'd had a recruitment office on Indiana Avenue.)

Around this time, but no doubt wholly coincidental to the Not Racist, Just Religiously Bigoted Klan's bribery program for every local official who preferred legal tender to going to prison on trumped-up charges, Indianapolis segregated its schools, beginning with high school, and gradually working its way back. After the Second World War de jure segregation was replaced by quieter de jure segregation, until a Federal court ruling in the early 70s desegregated Indianapolis Public Schools by transferring some of its students, along with a lot of its cash, to the white suburban districts where the sons and daughters of the original segregators had fled.

Meanwhile, in the late 60s, faced with the terrifying prospect of enough African-Americans voting that the Party of Lincoln would itself become a Minority, Dick Lugar, Spanish-American War veteran and "Nixon's Favorite Mayor"--an honorarium he sadly no longer lists on his c.v.--together with the Republican majority on the City Council and a GOP-controlled Statehouse, annexed all the white suburbs out to the county line. The three political vestiges of the old boundaries which were allowed to remain in place were 1) the Indianapolis police and the Marion county sheriff, plus local fire departments; 2) the eight or twelve or fifteen hopeless tangles known as Township governments, and a couple of autonomous town governments; and 3) nine separate school districts. I'll bet you already guessed that one.

It, of course, had nothing to do with racism. Or at least no more to do with racism than the Indiana Klan did.

That little trick lasted thirty years, assuming you imagine electing a Republican who called himself a Democrat, and a Democratically-controlled City/County Council, closed a chapter. Bart Peterson, elected in 2000, immediately set out to rectify eighty years of overt racism in local education got himself the right to found charter schools the way soft drink producers create new and exciting brands. He also created, in 2006, something called The Mind Trust, a non-profit organization which, and I quote "is taking a bold, new approach to education reform. Driven by results, we are strategically building a network of the nation’s best education reform organizations here in Indianapolis. Together, these organizations, led by visionary education entrepreneurs, are already putting their ideas into action and working to transform our schools." [bold emphasis of "bold" in original]

Now, if you're as big a fan as I of our nation's results-driven, visionary education entrepreneurs and the dozens of metaphorical new and exciting soft drink flavors they dream up every day--backed by results!--you will already realize that Indianapolis Public Schools are failing. Because, otherwise, what's an educational entrepreneur supposed to sink his teeth into? And, no doubt, you'll have tumbled to the idea that the solution to this problem lies in Better Test Scores, Higher Graduation Rates, and the sort of Entrepreneurial expertise which can't manage to accomplish anything unless unions are broken, benefits cut, and working conditions run through the Dreadfulizer 3000. Because only then will we be able to attract the highest-quality applicants.

(It's interesting, isn't it, how much time Our Nation's Entrepreneurs spend solving every problem except giving people decent, meaningful jobs at living wages? Based on this model, I guess we need a tax-exempt consortium of acrobats, beekeepers, or gerbil enthusiasts, to figure out how to solve our economic woes.)

Of course, The Mind Trust being a savvy, well-connected, and going concern, it doesn't actually say "End Socialist Union Socialism" in its Mission Statement, since the sort of people who pay it to work toward that end don't really want it publicized that that's what they're up to. In fact, when they came out with their Big Plan a couple days ago, about which the whole town is artificially buzzing, because the local news outlets have devoted every non-Super Bowl-related minute to it--that is, about one minute--the We Need Great Teacher thing was mostly boilerplate. The two Big Ideas were 1) reducing the administration by 80%, and using the proceeds to give everyone free pre-school; and 2) eliminating the elected School Board, and replacing it with a committee appointed by the mayor and the City-County Council.

In other words, African-Americans, say goodbye to the last vestige of your voting power in Indianapolis. [By the way, school reform is such a vital, pressing problem that The Mind Trust will be waiting until 2013 to press its agenda with the (then safely ensconced for two years) state legislature. The suggestion that voters in the IPS district be given a referendum before becoming the only public entity in the state denied the right to choose its own school board was met, predictably, with something short of enthusiasm.]

Listen, I'm no fan of the school board, nor its superintendent Eugene "Cufflinks" White (in what we in the IPS extended family have come to expect from White, he issued a statement yesterday that the Plan wouldn't work. "And besides," he added, "I'm already doing all those things.") There's no question that the Administration building is full of functionaries, supernumeraries, flunkies, and associate flunkies.

But if you're looking to clean house from the top down, do you really call in a charity golf outing's worth of entrepreneurs? People who can't function without six secretaries and a private jet?

The Mind Trust site lists the following on its Staff page:

Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Executive Vice President
Vice President of Education Initiatives
Education Initiatives Associate
Vice President of Strategic Growth Initiatives
Individual Giving Manager
Vice President and Director of CEE-Trust [where the job of Vice President is to "oversee The Mind Trust’s efforts to support education entrepreneurship nationwide through his work as director of the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust). So he's the liaison to himself.]
CEE-Trust Associate

And they're currently looking for a Manager of Operations.

There's also thirteen people on the Board of Directors (shame on you, Jane Pauley), a veritable Who's Who of Eli Lilly/Gates Foundation/Mitch Daniels Crony/Corporate Consortium to Fuck Public Education.

My favorite bit, though, is the capsule bio of Founder and Chief Executive Officer (and former Peterson Director of Charter Schools) David Harris:

"David Harris is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Mind Trust. Under his leadership, The Mind Trust has raised $25 million to advance the work of education entrepreneurs in Indianapolis and accelerate positive change. Since its launch in 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the Indianapolis launch of 11 high-impact entrepreneurial education ventures, supported critical research and policy work designed to improve the climate for education innovation, and garnered widespread attention from local and national media, with The Indianapolis Star declaring that The Mind Trust is 'at the center of the reform movement in Indianapolis.'"

Yup. Half a decade of sweet-talkin' the Gates Foundation, the Lilly Foundation, and helping make the anti-public school/Republican war on unions sound reasonable and caring. Guess maybe it's time to start thinking about education some now.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Don't Worry. Some Wealthy White People Are On Their Way To Help You.

Will they be arriving in a wambulance?

grouchomarxist said...

... and the sort of Entrepreneurial expertise which can't manage to accomplish anything unless unions are broken, benefits cut, and working conditions run through the Dreadfulizer 3000. Because only then will we be able to attract the highest-quality applicants.

The most depressing thing about life in these United States is the balls-out blatancy of the grifts our one-percent jahhhb-creatin' ubermenschen are running these days. Is it too late to start building that "B" Ark?

Anonymous said...

Market forces at work, bitches! I'm very certain Beurt SerVaas is rubbing his hands, in whatever crypt/undisclosed location he resides these days...

And yep, Uni-Gov was a great move for as long as it lasted. Unfortunately it was the kind of trick that can only be done once...and besides, what difference does it make? I've not noticed that Bart Peterson governed in any way different from his predecessors or successor, when it came down to how to divvy up the political swag...