Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The McCormick Plan? - or is it Bennett Plan 2.0?

Jennifer McCormick finally rolled out her “Lesson Plan for Indiana” on September 21.  That plan gives little insight into actual practice, yet draws more comparisons to her GOP mentor, Tony Bennett’s failed and flawed policies and practices.  McCormick said she did back many of the initiatives put in place by Indiana’s Republican-led legislature over the past eight years, such as tougher requirements for teacher evaluations and her “Lesson Plan” seems to be following a political agenda that closely aligns with the former Republican Superintendent, who championed controversial reforms such as the adoption of the Common Core academic standards and state-takeover of chronically failing schools.  McCormick has also previously stated her support for school choice, charters and vouchers.

Dr. McCormick announced her “Lesson Plan for Indiana” at the headquarters of Hoosiers for Quality Education.  Remember, we did a post about H4QE in February of 2015. 

 Who Are These Hoosiers For Quality Education

Big Education players for H4QE are veterans of the Daniels and Bennett administrations with strong ties to the education reform movement.

Tony Bennett, Senior Advisor and Consultant
As recently as July 2014, H4QE told potential donors that Bennett was its senior policy advisor. At a February 2 Senate committee hearing, H4QE’s lobbyist testified that Bennett works as its consultant.

Fred Klipsch, Chairman
Klipsch, who after a long career in business and Republican Party politics, started his involvement in education reform with the Educational Choice Charitable Trust by granting scholarships for private schools. This evolved into forming School Choice Indiana, which according to Klipsch, “literally drafted the education reform laws in 2011”. Klipsch served on Gov. Pence’s transition team upon being elected governor and continues to serve as his campaign treasurer.

Tosha Salyers, Director of Communications
Salyers was the director of outreach in the Bennett administration and worked for the corporate education reform group StudentsFirst, before joining H4QE as their spokesperson. StudentsFirst pulled operations out of Indiana in the summer of 2014.

Jennifer McCormick appears to be rolling around in corporate education reform money, the same money that funded Tony Bennett’s campaigns.  A peek at McCormick’s most recent campaign finance report reveals that 90 percent of her campaign contributions have come from donors of former Superintendent Tony Bennett.  As of August, McCormick’s campaign raised $121,478, of which $109,400 came directly from donors to Bennett’s campaign.

The Hoosiers for Quality Education PAC’s total to McCormick, so far, is at $30,000.

Fred Klipsch, donated $10,000 to McCormick at the end of May.

McCormick has also received $75,000 recently from the Tony Bennett grade changing  scandal charter school’s Christel DeHaan.

David Harris, from the Mind Trust, gave McCormick $250

Deborah Daniels, Mitch’s sister, also gave $250

Former  Indiana State Board of Education member Daniel Elsener has given $1,000 so far.

Charter honcho John Bryan has donated $2,500 so far.

These are only a few prominent reformer contributions.  More from other corporate school reform folks have come in throughout the campaign.

“We preach no bullying to the students and I will practice that,” McCormick said in her January campaign announcement. “I will not run a negative campaign.”

However, appearing negative enough to Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s supporters, McCormick announced her run at the Indiana Statehouse surrounded by representatives of interest groups that supported Ritz’s predecessor, Tony Bennett, or who have been critical of Ritz: Stand For Children, the Institute for Quality Education and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Also on hand, in the crowd were several former staff members from Bennett’s education department team.  McCormick may not have mentioned Bennett, but  McCormick and Bennett share more than just donors who support corporate education “reform", however. The two have been linked since Bennett was state superintendent. Then Superintendent, Bennett cited McCormick's work in Yorktown in his final “state of education” address, given just months before he was defeated by Ritz in the 2012 election.

“Yorktown Schools, led by Superintendent Jennifer McCormick and a host of ambitious principals and teachers, have revamped their entire K-12 model based on providing every student a head start on college with a rich selection of Advanced Placement courses,” Bennett said in that speech. “In grade 3, Yorktown students begin an advanced curriculum designed to prepare them for college-level coursework as early as middle school. Yorktown has become one of Indiana’s AP leaders, and their model for college preparation has become an example for forward thinking districts around the state.”

It appears as though voters will ultimately be deciding whether to return to the Tony Bennett era of failed and flawed reforms or give Glenda Ritz another term, with a new Governor, this November.

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