School Board Elections and What is Next

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Jim Scheurich, IUPUI School of Education Professor and Indianapolis Citizen

Odle, one of the four Stand for Children-Mind Trust candidates, lost.  The other three of their candidates—O’Connor, Moore, and Arnold—won.

Based on the best estimate available, Stand for Children-Mind Trust spent over $500,000 for their candidates with around $200-250,000 being spent on Odle’s loss.  Stand for Children uses a 401C4 tax dodge to hide where they get these large dollars from and who they spend them on (more on this below).  We made our estimate based on the cost of the mail outs Stand for Children did.

20161122_mindtrustOdle was mainly defeated, in my view, because he made so much money off of ITT Educational Services, which was badly run and exploited generally low income students.  However, I think OurIPS.org and other critics of the Stand for Children-Mind Trust candidates hurt him.  Further, in a pre-election forum, he said he had only spent $5,000 for the prior school board election when he knew that Stand for Children had spent over $200,000 to get him elected.  All of this undermined the ability of the community to trust him.

Given that Stand for Children likely spent over $100,000 to get O’Connor elected in District 1, his defeat of Prince was not that strong.  He got 54% of the vote to her 46%.  This may indicate that he is vulnerable in the next election.

Venita Moore, who is new the Stand for Children-Mind Trust, did not do as well as O’Connor, though since she had two candidates splitting the vote, she won easily.  She had 52% of the vote and her opponents had 48%.

Diane Arnold was the largest winner.  She had 72% of the vote to Vaughn’s 28%.

Thus, Stand for Children-Mind Trust likely spent over $500,000 to elect three of four candidates using a “dark money” tax account even though Stand for Children-Mind Trust claim to be community-oriented candidates.  As Justin Ohlemiller, Executive Director of Stand for Children, said directly to me, that tax account “is legal.”   He is right, it is legal, but is it moral and ethical for an organization that claims to be community-oriented. And, does it undermine a fair and equitable democracy?

Next Steps

After doing indepth study of the Stand for Children-Mind Trust “reform” effort and after working to defeat their super-funded candidates, here is what I think needs to happen next.

  1. A citywide organization, building on the community work that occurred prior to the just completed election, needs to be formed to hold the school board accountable til the next election and to build toward that next election.
  1. A critically important activity of this citywide organization is to attend all school board meetings and then keep the community informed as to what is going on.
  1. Another critically important activity is to maintain a strong, persistent public critique of the Stand for Children-Mind Trust operations, including their anti-community dark funding, their efforts to re-segregate schools, their support of gentrification that pushes low income folks out of their homes, their application of the business model to schooling, their financial and undercover alliance with those funding and supporting charter schools, their deception that they are local operation when they are actually part of a national operation in 38 other cities, etc. In other words, we need to make them spend the next two years feeling the heat and transparency of constant public critique through social media and the traditional media.
  1. We need to do in-depth investigative research on the ones who will run for election in 2016 as Stand for Children-Mind Trust candidates.
  1. We need to work tirelessly to educate everyday Indianapolis folks on the deceptive and destructive nature of the Mind Trust-Stand for Children network.
  1. We need to begin to build for the next election. We need to seek some strong candidates and assist them in understanding all aspects of the Stand for Children-Mind Trust operation. We also need to analyze the voting in the districts that will be up for election in 2018.
  1. We need to support and communicate a vision for schools that is community-based and that actually is developed by everyday Indianapolis people.


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