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A straight flush

Newsweek contributor Niall Ferguson is under fire from Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman and others for mistakes in his latest cover story, critical of President Obama. In my mind, Ferguson hit a low point with this outlandish ode to charter schools last November.

Ferguson seemed to be overcome with excitement to be included in the cool-kids poker party. If he had done any research, he might have found that hedge-fund managers love charter schools for reasons that have nothing to do with poor children in struggling schools. Don Whittinghill, a consultant to the Louisiana School Boards Association, put it best when he explained the Wall Street-types aren't so much into philanthropy as in to "converting classrooms into profit centers."

Of course, it's probably a good excuse for getting together to play poker, too. The hedge-fund guys obviously are good at bluffing -- Ferguson isn't the only eager patsy for their philanthropic ruse.

Indiana is no stranger to the interests of hedge-fund groups. I've written numerous times of the campaign contributions flowing from Wall Street to Indiana's top school official.

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