John Harris Loflin assembled the following description of the privatization and takeover of the Indianapolis Public Schools by out-of-state interests, aided by local “reformers.”

He writes:

Purchasing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections

According to the truly transformative IPS Racial Equity Policy and Black Lives Matter Resolution (REP/BLM), racism is social and institutional power combined with racial prejudice. IPS defines racial prejudice as a system of advantage for those considered white, and of oppression for those who are not considered white

The IPS resolution mentions years 1922 (the year the IPS board created Attucks) and 1968/1970 of IPS history (the era when the board was sued by the feds for maintaining segregated schools long after Brown). IPS histories of the Citizens School Committee or 1950s-early 1960s events leading to 1970 lawsuit aren’t noted. And, it skips the 1990’s era and notably, major board changes of the 2010-2020 decade.

The 2010-2020 decade

REP/BLM also states “[IPS] has participated in maintaining a system of racial inequality in Indianapolis through its actions and inactions, policies and practices, budgets and priorities, advocacy and silence, and by too often privileging the prejudice of white parents over the well-being of Black students.”

A review and analysis of “Purchasing the IPS school board elections” shows that the majority of donors to the winning candidate were mainly white wealthy males. Some were very wealthy.

The white money and power represented by the donations, whether intended or not, reveal a “system of advantage for those considered white.” This made the board members who decided to take the donations (note: the IPS candidates did not have to take the money), whether they knew it or not, beholden to the donors.

  •   It is naïve to assume there were no strings attached to the money contributed to campaigns.
  •   It is naïve to think the donations did not represent white corporate and philanthropic foundation


  •   It is naïve to think the donations, intended or not, did not privilege white parents, and wealthy

    white parents in particular.

    The question: Does the 2012, 2014, and 2016 purchase of IPS school board seats discredit and delegitimize the past and current board members and the Supt. Ferebee and Supt. Johnson regimes?

    “Then there’s the obscenity of outside influence and $300,000 to $500,000 in outside money which bought three seats on the IPS school board.”

    ~ Amos Brown, commentator, Indianapolis Recorder, 10.23.14

Part of the shameful history of IPS began in 1922, but where does it end?

Today’s board construes a current picture of the bad part of the Indianapolis Public Schools as out there in the waters of history. The board criticizes this past, saying it’s time for change. The dilemma for IPS is: if Supt. Johnson and the board take time to look down, they are standing in the water too.

Purchasing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections

What started out as a push for a few local charters (given freedom from certain traditional public education policy requirements) has grown. Now, Indy is home of America’s 2nd most privatized public school system! New Orleans Public Schools is ranked first where every school is privatized.

Local citizens were not told back when the 2011 Mind Trust Opportunity Schools report came out, that possibly in 10 years 63.7% of Indianpolis students would be in privatized schools. For more on charters, read closely: Portfolio models: private ways of running public schools. Check out the IPS Portfolio Management scheme here.

To the dismay of the Mind Trust leadership, its 2011 $700.000 Opportunity Schools study and proposals never caught on. And, neither did Indy’s NEO Plan–Mayor Ballard’s Office of Education Innovation proposal called “Neighborhood of Educational Opportunity” or NEO.

The NEO Plan’s use of the term to “high quality seats” turned people off. As well, the Recorder’s Amos Brown wrote a Feb 28, 2013 commentary ,”‘White flight’ reason education reformers pushing change in Indy” ( a215-001a4bcf887a.html) followed by a Jul 13, 2013 column, ”NEO Plan harmful for Black, minority students” ( 0019bb2963f4.html). The NEO Plan was shelved.

In fact, the NEO Plan was so bad, Cincy rejected it too. See Jan 24, 2017 Cincinnati Inquirer story “CEO quietly quits school accelerator.” “When it launched in 2015, Accelerate Great Schools promised to attack poverty in Cincinnati and smash the divide between the haves and have-nots in education.” Evidently, it did not. The Mind Trust’s Pat Herrel came back to Indy. Cincy.pdf

So what to do next? Buy IPS!

Mind Trust’s efforts to work with IPS had failed. Plan A, Opportunity Schools was ignored. Plan B, the NEO Plan got over scrutinized, critiqued, and finally rejected. The Mind Trust went into a long closed door session and came out with a plan that skipped the middle of the alphabet: Plan Z—just buy the IPS board.

Working with Stand for Children and their ground crew, Teach for America, the Mind Trust went about “Plan Z.”

The privatization of public education

All this must be appreciated over a background of the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections which were bought by local and national corporate school reform supporters, consequently engineering the consent of the Indianapolis public for the privatization of their very own public schools.

“Privatization is a kind of reverse social contract: it dissolves the bonds that tie us together into free communities and democratic republics. It puts us back in the state of nature where we possess a natural right to get whatever we can on our own, but at the same time lose any real ability to secure that to which we have a right… Private choices rest on individual power… Public choices rest on civic rights, common responsibilities, and presume equal rights for all.” ~ Benjamin Barber

A national movement to privatize public education

To understand more of the national background on IPS privatization, view The corporate assault on public education.

Also read, Corporate Makeover of Public Education: What’s at Stake?, Fabricant & Fine’s 2012 book.

For the scenario on the corporate takeover of our IPS, see Amos Brown’s, “Is Stand for Children buying IPS school board election?” (Indianapolis Recorder 10.23.14) and other news stories and info on IPS board candidate’s campaign funding:

 Commissioner Sam Odle IPS-School-Board-Election.pdf $61,924.56
 Commissioner Kelly Bentley IPS-School-Board-Election-1.pdf $52,677.73
 Commissioner Lanier Echols IPS-School-Board-Election-1.pdf $52,677.73
 Commissioner Michael O’Connor contributions-IPS-School-Board-Elections.pdf $33,985.75

 Commissioner Venita Moore IPS-School-Board-Elections.pdf $25,711.61
 Commissioner Diane Arnold IPS-School-Board-Elections.pdf $16,353.60

For more read:

  •   Indianapolis Education Reform Player Profiles
  •   Corporate School Boarding Indy Style
  •   Hoosier School Heist: How Corporations and Theocrats Stole Democracy From Public Education

    Here’s info on IPS Supt. Ferebee’s million dollar team he brought in with him from North Carolina: team.pdf

    Another group of publications takes a look at this time period where unprecedented amounts of money came into IPS elections, especially from out of state contributors:

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  • 

    More news stories and columns on the overkill of IPS pro-reform candidate campaign finances against their poorly funded opponents

  •   Academic shame for charter schools! Amos Brown Nov 6, 2014
    “Maybe if the school reformers spent some of their filthy lucre they wasted in the IPS race on improving the quality of charter school board members and teachers and encouraged real instruction instead of listening to out-of-town educational scam artists, the majority of Indy’s charters would be ‘high performing’ schools for our kids.” 03f7d5b55bcf.html
  •   Don’t bet on big bucks in IPS election Dan Carpenter Oct 30, 2014
    “Convince them [the public], in short, of the wisdom of the Mind Trust and Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform and the billionaires behind the industry of professional critics and charter school entrepreneurs who seek to own the operation.”
  •   Indy’s Chamber wants to elect an un-diverse IPS school board slate Amos Brown Sep 4, 2014 “Voters, parents and students in IPS don’t need Michael Bloomberg or other out-of-town fat cats to decide our school board election. Indianapolis voters and Indianapolis dollars and resources should decide who governs all of our city/county’s eleven school districts. Not out-of-town cash and meddlers like the Chamber’s Star Chamber selection committee.” 0019bb2963f4.html
  •   The Mind Trust is a Trojan Horse That Is Destroying Indianapolis Public Education Jim Scheurich education/
  •   Who’s giving money to IPS school board candidates? Campaign finance filings reveal contribu- tions from Indianapolis philanthropists, out-of- state reformers and more. Oct 17, 2014 Chalkbeat candidates#.Colombo.
  •   2014 elections disaster for Dems, except for Indianapolis seats Amos Brown Nov 13, 2014 0f389a79a5e5.html?mode=image&photo=0
  •   IPS’ corporate-bought board needs to pay attention to real crises in IPS Amos Brown Jan 29, 2015

    2017 IPS high school choice experiment: IPS and Radio One inveigle students and parents into accepting the district’s new Career Academy model

    Note, especially, the late 2017 commentary, “Without parents present: IPS tries to engineer the consent of students to accept its plan to reinvent high school.” The meetings discussed are examples of the extent to which the district and the local business community went to justify the manipulation of students and families—and public opinion—to accept an IPS high school corporate Career Academy model of public education.

    Where does the Indianapolis Community stand? Corporatocracy or Democracy?

    “Market competition favors the already powerful and if you unleash competition, then schools which are powerful from the start, are going to thrive and those that are not powerful are not magically somehow able to develop the ability to compete.”

    ~ Pamela Grundy, Parents Across America, Charlotte, NC

Another way to misuse democratic processes is a sort of “reverse takeover” move where groups like Stand for Children become akin to “corporate raiders” when they lead the organization of persons or entities to “buy” school board seats with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

~ Amos Brown, 2014

Superintendents Ferebee and Johnson obtained their status and power to privatize the district by an unprecedented (and successful) effort to buy the IPS school board

These raw histories of facts and news commentaries directly challenge the political authenticity of the Ferebee and/or Johnson regimes. The antics of the Mind Trust and their sidekick Stand for Children, can now be viewed as shady local and national-level political deals. Here, according to Amos Brown, school reformers, “…spent some of their filthy lucre…” to grab control and privatize public education.

Yes, the above elections are over; yet, were the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board races corrupted by big money—indeed a “coup” by local and national entities to take over the school district?

To help unpack and analyze the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS elections and put them in perspective, let’s take seriously the points and concerns of 2 Black American educators:

Prof. Lester Spence

 “To the Black Education Reform Establishment: Be Real with Who You Are and Whose Interest

You Represent” Establishment-Be-Real-with-Who-You-Are-and-Whose-Interest-You-Represent.pdf

“Purchasing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 IPS school board elections” is essay, analysis, and commentary by John Harris Loflin, researcher for Parent Power, the Indianapolis affiliate of Parents Across America and Indy’s Education-Community Action Team.

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