‘Hoosier School Heist’ follows money in Indiana school politics

The mantra of investigative reporters everywhere is “follow the money.” And no one else follows the money in Indiana education politics as doggedly – some might say obsessively — as Doug Martin.

His new book, “Hoosier School Heist,” draws on campaign finance records, foundation tax documents and muckraking reporting to paint a picture of a big-money push to privatize Indiana education with an agenda of vouchers, charter schools and anti-teacher policies.

“School privatization diminishes teachers, parents, students and education to something one can sell and make money from, and it eliminates any quest for knowledge for knowledge’s sake,” Martin writes. “… Sadly, only a fundamental overhaul of American society is going to turn the school bus around, as it did in the years leading up to the New Deal, after the robber barons stole everything.”

HoosierSchoolHeistAs the title makes clear, this is advocacy journalism. Martin doesn’t make any pretense of being “fair and balanced,” whatever that means. He writes in a tone of sustained outrage, which may be a bit strong for some readers. He would no doubt say that, if we aren’t outraged, we aren’t paying attention.

Parts of his narrative are familiar: The role of the Mind Trust and Friedman Foundation in promoting school choice, the East Coast hedge-fund money funneled through the American Federation for Children and Hoosiers for Economic Growth to Republican politicians, the rise and fall of Tony Bennett.  Continue reading

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