From Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal:
The American Federation of Teachers — and its Indiana affiliate — announced today it has made a possibly sweeping public records request of the Indiana Department of Education, seeking “all communications between former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, ALEC and others since 2009.”
The group also wants emails from “for-profit education companies that fund Bush’s foundation and ALEC, including Charter Schools USA, the for-profit charter provider that employs Bennett’s wife,” the union said.
The national teachers union’s action comes a week after Bennett’s resigned as Florida education commissioner.
Bennett was part of “chiefs for change,” a group put together Bush’s educational foundation. ALEC is a private group of conservative state lawmakers that pushes “model” legislation on a host of topics. Bush, a former Florida governor, is to be a featured speaker at an ALEC conference this week in Chicago.
The union believes it is all related.
Its email request ” comes on the heels of Bennett’s resignation as Florida education commissioner, after news broke that he manipulated the ALEC model school grading system for donors in Indiana. And it coincides with Bennett-backer Jeb Bush’s keynote address at ALEC’s annual meeting in Chicago,” the union said.
“Tony Bennett put backroom deals and favors for political donors ahead of the children of Indiana,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, in a statement. “The people of Indiana deserve to know how deep this cronyism went and the real connections between Bennett, Jeb Bush and ALEC. Public education should be about helping children, not donors.”
While contacts between Bush’s FEE and ALEC won’t be available, it will be interesting to see if ALEC are included in any email contacts between FEE and Bennett’s IDOE. The In the Public Interest report that was released this spring covered email contacts between FEE and six states where one of its Chiefs for Change were in power. Not included in the report were New Jersey, Tennessee and Bennett’s Indiana.