Indianapolis philanthropist and political powerbroker Al Hubbard could be the latest Hoosier to play a national role in education.
Hubbard, who served in the second Bush administration, has been a frontrunner for months for the deputy to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But Politico reported last month his appointment may have been held up by personal politics — he donated thousands of dollars to an anti-Trump super PAC.
Here’s some background on the man who could become DeVos’ second in command:
Hubbard was one of the Republican leaders who helped build support for controversial education changes in 2011, including a vast expansion of school choice, a statewide teacher evaluation system and a new test-based accountability system that allowed for state takeover of low-scoring schools, the Associated Press reported.
Although Hubbard is a well-known businessman and philanthropist in Indianapolis, in recent years he has not been publicly involved in education policy. In 2013, he made a move to influence the state’s largest school district when he teamed up a Democrat, Indianapolis City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, to create a committee to push for reuse of vacant school buildings, preschool and innovation schools. But the group has not been an active player pushing changes in the city schools since then.
Innovation schools, which are managed by charter networks or non-profits but considered part of Indianapolis Public Schools, were in the national spotlight after DeVos highlighted a community-led innovation school in a speech. She appears to have an eye on Indianapolis because she later cited an Indianapolis private school as a model for its diverse student body.
He has also contributed to several candidates for the IPS Board in recent elections. The candidates he backed are part of a wave of new board members who have pushed the district to create innovation schools and partner with charter managers.
Hubbard is perhaps best known in Indianapolis education circles for funding an annual teaching award, which offers winning Indianapolis Public Schools teachers $25,000. He and his wife Kathy Hubbard started the life-changing teacher awards after reading an account of an inspiring local teacher.