Hoosiers for Economic Growth chairman Fred Klipsch explained recently how his organization and several affiliated groups spent $4.4 million to push through the education policies that Indiana adopted in 2011, including a huge voucher program, expansion of charter schools and anti-union measures.
Klipsch spoke in May at a national policy summit in Jersey City, N.J., hosted by the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, organizations that promote taxpayer funding of private schools.
You can download a PowerPoint of Klipsch’s presentation from the website of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. You can also watch a video of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett receiving the John T. Walton Champion of School Choice Award at the summit.
Hoosiers for Economic Growth spent almost $1.3 million during Indiana’s 2010 election cycle, most of it targeted to producing a Republican majority in the Indiana House. Organizations like School Choice Indiana and Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Aiming Higher also contributed to the effort, according to Klipsch’s presentation.
The goal was to overcome what Klipsch referred to as “the problem” – the Indiana State Teachers Association, which his presentation calls “the most powerful political force at the Statehouse and at the ballot box” and “the biggest spender by far” in Indiana politics.
The ISTA’s political action committee, the Indiana PAC for Education or I-PACE, spent $792,683 in 2010, according to campaign finance reports.
Hoosiers for Economic Growth gets much of its money from the Indiana PAC of American Federation for Children, a pro-voucher outfit headed by Michigan Republican activist Betsy DeVos. The PAC’s money comes from Philadelphia and New York hedge-fund managers and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton.
Voucher schools: More of the same
The Indianapolis Star had an article Sunday on what it described as increasing diversity in Indiana’s school-voucher program. The evidence: Of 301 schools accepting vouchers, eight are now non-religious, two are Jewish and three are Muslim. The rest are Christian.
In some circles that would be called tokenism, not diversity.
To be fair, the article’s focus was local, and last year, there was apparently only one voucher school in Marion County that was not a Christian school. Now there are four: an Islamic school, a Hebrew school that admits only Jewish students, a school for high-functioning children with autism and a school for highly gifted students.