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Hoosiers for Quality Education pushes corporate ed 'reform' agenda with Bennett's help

Hoosiers for Quality Education (H4QE), formerly known as Hoosiers for Economic Growth, is an education “reform” political action committee led by businessman Fred Klipsch. The group has spent more than $3 million on campaign contributions to benefit candidates who support the privatization of public education and Republican gubernatorial candidates.

According to H4QE, the Indiana State Teachers Association is the problem when it comes to implementing education reform and school choice programs. In October 2014, the group issued a statement calling public school teachers “anti-public education”.

In a presentation by the group, and boasted by its chairman, H4QE claims credit for:

  • writing education reform legislation passed since 2008
  • electing Republican majorities in the Indiana legislature
  • electing Superintendent Tony Bennett, Gov. Mitch Daniels and Gov. Mike Pence
  • redistricting legislative districts to benefit Republicans

So, who leads H4QE? Many 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.

In addition to advocating for unpopular private school vouchers and increased funding for failing charter schools; this legislative session, H4QE has pushed for adult centered and anti-union reforms like stripping authority away from Superintendent Ritz.

H4QE recently held a corporate sponsored school choice “rally” at the Indiana Statehouse. Just as the group has done previously, hundreds of charter and private school students were bussed in to attend. Approximately 200 were in attendance and the vast majority were students.

There is no doubt that ISTA, Indiana PTA, NAACP and other coalition partners would be severely criticized had there been a concerted effort to bus in public school students to attend the public education rally a week prior. Just another example of the double-standard setting that occurs.

ISTA will continue to fight for a student-centered agenda that focuses on ensuring all public school students have the tools and resources necessary to help them improve their learning and reach their full potential.