Business is a Horrible Model for Education and “Educational Reform”

Jim Scheurich, Professor
IUPUI School of Education

The Mind Trust is not a single organization. It is a host of organizations all deceptively working together to control IPS education (see http://kheprw.org/ips-research-group-presentation-on-the-mind-trust/ for more elaboration of this point). All of these organizations are funded by Big Money from here in Indy but also from wealthy individuals, corporations, and other organizations from across the country.

Why are these individuals and organizations from outside Indy putting so much money into IPS education? What do they expect in return? Continue reading.

This Big Money, working through the Mind Trust network, put up the money to get all of the current school board members elected. To do this, while it used to take $3-5,000 to run successfully for the school board, it now take $50-80,000. Thus, the Mind Trust network and the Big Money behind it made it nearly impossible for ordinary local people to run for the school board, and thus they bought the current school board.

Having been funded by Big Money, the Mind Trust network and the IPS School Board tout that business is the best model for education reform in Indy. They say that if we just follow the tenets of business, all of our schools will be great. However, some recent examples from business do not support this, and these example raise serious concerns for business-oriented education reform.

First, you have probably heard of the recall on auto airbags because these airbags have led to the death of 14 and the injury of over 100 people. The company that built these airbags was warned early on that their technology was dangerous to people. But because these airbags were cheaper to make, this company and the auto companies decided to change to these airbags so they could increase their profits. In other words, dollars were more important than people.

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/27/business/takata-airbag-recall-crisis.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0).

Will this happen in our schools using the Mind Trust network-IPS school board’s reform model? Will increased profits drive down quality education for our children? For example, David Harris, who is head of Mind Trust, makes $273,390 a year, according to the most recent figures we can access. Why is he making so much money? Is he running some major corporation or other organization? What is he up to that he can get this kind of salary from Big Money?

Another example from the wonderful world of business as our education reform model: The EpiPen. Many people require EpiPen’s to survive. Many children require EpiPens to survive. They are used as an emergency treatment by people who have a history of serious allergic reactions. My guess is that you know many people carrying them for themselves or for their children. I certainly do.

These EpiPens used to cost $100 for two, and now they cost $600 for two. When the CEO was asked why her company raised the price, her reply was that she was just a person in business trying to make a profit. Again, money over people. (See http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/epipen-price-1.3734214)

We can see the results of this approach with Earl Martin Phalen, the CEO of the Phalen Leadership Academy, which operates one charter in Indy and one IPS innovation (you know, those schools that use business as their education model). His salary was $284,745 in 2013. Today, he may be making even more. Also, he doesn’t even live in Indy; he lives on the east coast.

His huge salary comes directly from our tax money. Why is he taking in so much of our tax dollars to run only two schools? He must be some incredible education genius who no one is heard of.

This is the real truth of the Mind Trust network and IPS school board’s use of the business model for Indianapolis education and education reform. It is money over children. Our children are profit sources.

Their real goal is money money money. Otherwise, why would big money nationally and locally be funding the election of our school board and the work of the Mind Trust network. (See PowerPoint on the Mind Trust on this website)? Why do billionaire business people on the east coast and the west coast want to buy IPS education?

The business model is exactly the wrong model for education. Instead, we need to use the wide range of over a decade of good education research on what is needed to create schools that are successful for all children to drive education reform.

Here’s our message to the Big Money-funded Mind Trust network and the IPS School Board:

The business model always focuses first on profit.
Business is the worst model for schooling our children.
Quit using our children for profit.
Get your hands and your money out of IPS schools.