Thursday, August 1, 2013

A final (?) news wrap-up on the Bennett story

As previously mentioned:
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana and current Florida schools chief Tony Bennett built his national star by promising to hold “failing” schools accountable. But when it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett’s education team frantically overhauled his signature “A-F” school grading system to improve the school’s marks.
You can get Joseph's reaction here and mine here and here.

Despite considerable support from the reform movement, you can add another 'former' to that paragraph.

Bennett said he resigned “because I don’t believe it would be fair to be distracted” by what he characterized as “malicious and unfounded” reports. 
Just yesterday, Gov. Scott told Channel 5 in West Palm Beach that Bennett is “doing a great job.
In what was already a bad news day for Bennett:
In June of 2011, Tony Bennett, then Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, picked a for-profit education company in Florida to run a group of Indianapolis public schools.

The company, Charter Schools USA, set up operations in Indianapolis soon after the announcement and officially began running Manual High School, T.C. Howe High School and Emma Donnan middle school in the late summer of 2012. Millions of Indiana tax dollars have since flowed to the company, which has received many good reviews for its work in Indianapolis.

But a recent hiring decision by Charter Schools USA is sure to raise eyebrows and questions about conflicts of interest, particularly now that Bennett is embroiled in a massive controversy centering on special treatment given to certain Indiana schools during his tenure.

The decision: Charter Schools USA earlier this year hired Tony Bennett’s wife, Tina, as a regional director based in Florida, where Tony Bennett was hired late last year as commissioner of education. And, so, the bottom line is this: Tina Bennett is now earning a paycheck from the company her husband hand-picked to take over schools in Indiana, a decision that was very good for the company’s financial fortunes.

It’s important to note that Tina Bennett is a longtime educator, a former school administrator and counselor. She is also an advocate of the type of school choice efforts that Charter Schools USA is built on. In Indiana, she faced criticism and sometimes cruel treatment for taking a job with education groups tied to her husband’s former office. But it’s understandable that she would seek work in the education field.
To provide some context (and a bit of schadenfreude) for Bennett's fall, here's a reminder of where Bennett ranked in the reform firmament.

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