Tony Bennett’s Plan to Degrade and Cheapen the Education Profession


In two days, recently ousted Indiana education boss Tony Bennett will sit down for an interview with members of the state board of education at the Tampa Airport Marriott. He’ll find kindred spirits on the board as with the exception of one, all were appointed by either former governor Jeb Bush or current governor Ricks Scott. The lone exception, John Padget, was appointed by Charlie Crist. It’s noteworthy that the only educator on the board is Crist’s appointee, Padget.

Bennett clearly scoffs at the notion that experience, training and professionalism are important in educating the nation’s children. One only needs to look at the plan that Bennett and Indiana governor Mitch Daniels have just rammed through. Here’s the details from an editorial in the Terra Haute Tribune-Star:

*You can get an “adjunct teaching permit” if you have a four-year college degree with at least a 3.0 grade point average and the ability to pass a test of your proficiency to teach a subject — as one newspaper reporter noted, with “no special teacher training, student teaching or experience necessary.”

* If you are a licensed teacher of, say, chemistry, you can also teach, say, French, if you pass a test — no additional classwork required.

*If you want to be a superintendent and don’t have a doctorate but have a master’s degree, go ahead.

* If you want to be a principal but have no master’s but do have two years of teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree and can complete a training program, congratulations.

Bennett is part of the education privatization conspiracy and with the help of Daniel’s clout is greasing the slide for two entities to move into Indiana. With Indiana’s hyper-charter school fetish well underway, Bennett is looking for more opportunities for Teach for American recruits. Wendy Kopp’s corporation received over $70 million in federal taxpayer money in 2011 to churn out new college grads to teach the nation’s schools. Hoping they stay only 2 or 3 years and work cheap, TFA cadets are a preferred option for charter school operators who want to take down a huge salary.

The Bennett-Daniels scam also wants to get people – like those TFA cadets – into principal and superintendent positions who buy into public education as a profit-driven institution. Perhaps even more Broad Foundation candidates who have no education credentials will find their way into Indiana.

One test apparently means everything to Bennett as it’s the only standard that matters in his new plan for teachers. Presumably, the same is true for students. Such narrowness has failed many Florida kids as evidenced by lagging graduation rates and the 54 percent of college freshmen who need remediation. A witness of the Bennett-Daniels education record, the editors of the Tribune-Star add this condemnation of the imposition on new educator standards:

We thought the whole stated point of the Mitch Daniels-Tony Bennett torrent of breakneck changes exacted upon Indiana’s primary and secondary schools was to improve the quality of education so our students would learn better and our teachers and administrators would work smarter.

But actions taken last Wednesday by the Bennett-dominated State Board of Education seem, instead, to lessen the quality of instruction. And, with apologies to “Sesame Street,” the timing the board’s actions was sponsored by the letter “P” — for Politics.

…..But as the days of Bennett’s rule counted down, the fix was in, the rush was on, and the politics won out over reason. If you were looking for an instant example of why Bennett’s style and influence have so inflamed Indiana’s teachers — and not a few administrators — here it is.

Is the fix in for Florida with Bennett being the ultimate hired gun to impose Jeb Bush’s vision? The last-minute maneuvers and protestations in the aftermath of Bennett’s ouster by Indiana voters are  another instance of ideological zealotry the ed reform movement is famous for. We’ll see this week if some Florida ed reformers on the state board are similarly irrational and bring in  a candidate ill-suited to Florida’s needs, but someone just like them.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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3 Responses to Tony Bennett’s Plan to Degrade and Cheapen the Education Profession

  1. Pingback: Tony Bennett’s Plan to Degrade and Cheapen the Education Profession | FPEP Blog

  2. Pingback: Florida School Superintendent: SB 736 Teacher Evaluations “Inconsistent, Unfair, Unscientific” | FPEP Blog

  3. Joe says:

    As an Indiana resident I hope the Dr. Bennett is true to his word when he said,

    “I am honored and excited by the opportunity here. I look forward to getting out, visiting schools, and meeting with and listening to students, parents, teachers, and leaders in districts across the state as we work together to ensure that every student in Florida has the kind of world-class education that allows them to flourish.”

    His defeat in Indiana was due in large part to not “listening to students, parents, teachers and leaders in districts across the state” and often refused to “work together”.

    Good luck Florida.

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