Bennett Emails Reveal “favoritism, cronyism, self-interest, and hubris”

Teresa Meredith is the new president of the Indiana Teacher’s Association. She offers this on the Tony Bennett’s cheating scandal in the Chesterton Tribune:

It’s time to call the Bennett school letter grade scandal exactly what it is—cheating.

Emails obtained by the Associated Press and released Monday show that former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett and his staff worked furiously last September to artificially raise the letter grade of the Christel House Academy, an Indianapolis charter school created by a prominent donor to both Bennett’s political campaign and to others in his political party.

There are no excuses for the actions taken by Bennett and his staff as revealed in the string of emails other than favoritism, cronyism, self-interest, and hubris—none of which has a place in public school policymaking.

To my fellow educators who have lived, breathed and worked under the long history of Indiana’s string of accountability laws—dating back to the A+ program in 1987—there was no joy in the revelations exposed on Monday.

There was, however, a degree of affirmation. The emails affirmed to teachers that their palpable unease over how Bennett forced his agenda—that “My way or the highway!” approach without including or trusting the expertise of the people on the frontlines—was founded unease.

We felt it last fall when the announcement of school letter grades was delayed. We felt it during the REPA 2 teacher licensure rules changes when Bennett and the State Board tried repeatedly to force licensure revisions without complying with Indiana’s rulemaking process. And we felt it when we learned that out-of-state takeover companies were being paid $800,000 per school to do nothing more than to observe a school for an entire year without lifting a finger to assist those schools.

Sadly, the unease lingers beyond this school letter grade scandal. At the State Board of Education meeting just a few days ago, members of the Board openly suggested creating a separate governing and legal structure to operate parallel to the Department of Education—and presumably outside the scope of Superintendent Glenda Ritz who was elected to oversee Indiana’s public education system. This new display of audacity is not only unnecessary, but it is a monumental waste of taxpayer resources.

Indeed. Some of these revelations are new to Florida observers, but it’s obvious that Bennett would continue such shenanigan in Florida if he could.  The Indiana board is stocked with hyper-partisan allies of Bennett, Mitch Daniels and presumably, current Governor Mike Pence. They’ve clearly been attempting to circumvent the will of Indiana voters. Let’s hope Bennett’s emails have changed all that.


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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One Response to Bennett Emails Reveal “favoritism, cronyism, self-interest, and hubris”

  1. seminolebuck says:

    FloriDUH’s board is filled with Jebster Bush appointees and the latest hacks were appointed by Dick Scott. NONE of them has any experience in public schools and their goal is to drive public schools, the teaching profession and unions into the ground.
    Scott must go. If we get rid of him, we get rid of Jeb, the useless state board and the Jeb Bush hacks running DOE.
    Time to get after these boys!

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