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Learning Curve

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    Yong Zhao, associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon, knows much about Chinese schools and his warnings about U.S. efforts to emulate them are worth studying.
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    Wendy Robinson, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, gave voucher proponent Robert Enlow a math lesson he won't likely forget.

Campaign watch

The campaign dollars continue to flow from out of state into Superintendent Tony Bennett's re-election coffers. His latest large contribution report shows a $40,000 contribution from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor's war on teacher unions likely explains his interest in the schools chief race in Indiana.

Another contribution, for $25,000, comes from the Hoosiers for Economic Growth Political Action Committee. While its name would suggest the money comes from Hoosiers, that's not the case. The PAC's first-quarter report of receipts and expenditures shows it collected $175,000 this year, from just two contributions made by the American Federation for Children Action Fund, a pro-voucher group using Terre Haute attorney James Bopp's law offices as a mailing address.

So where does the American Federation for Children Action Fund get its money? The $1.2 million it has raised so far this year comes from three Pennsylvania hedge-fund managers – Arthur Dantchik, Jeff Yass, Joel Greenberg – with a history of funding pro-voucher candidates.

Hoosiers for Economic Growth's other campaign cash beneficiaries have education interests, as well. The PAC gave $25,000 to Rep. Robert Behning, chairman of the House Education Committee, and Todd Huston, a Republican candidate for Indiana House, chairman of the Indiana State Charter School Board and former chief of staff for Bennett.

"Hoosiers" for Economic Growth? Not so much -- Pennsylvania Voucher Supporters for Hoosier Voucher Supporters is probably a more accurate name.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at