News and Tribune


August 7, 2013

THEIR VIEW: Opinions from other newspapers for Aug. 7

Indiana grading system left in doubt


Tony Bennett, a lightning rod as Indiana’s former superintendent of public instruction, went down swinging Thursday as he resigned as Florida’s education chief.

Bennett was voted out of Indiana office in 2012 after a term that cast him as the charging bull for all sorts of education reform, from private school vouchers to structured teacher evaluations to A-to-F grades for schools. Rejected by Hoosier voters in his re-election bid, Bennett wound up in Florida, where like-minded politicians wanted him to replicate reform measures he guided through the Indiana General Assembly.

His undoing in Florida came this week, thanks to a series of emails uncovered by The Associated Press that showed Bennett and his staff working double-time behind the scenes to save an Indianapolis charter school — one run by a well-placed donor to his campaign — from a C grade in 2012.

As Bennett announced his resignation, he questioned the aim of releasing emails that showed his staff trying to refigure the school grading formula to push Christel House Academy to a grade of A.

“It’s obviously politically motivated,” Bennett said. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that.”

Yeah, maybe not.

Even if we say for the sake of arguing that the public records revelation was politically motivated, the emails speak for themselves.

An administration built around the power of metrics to spur school improvements should understand that accountability cuts both ways.

Bennett says he’s fearless of a state review of the A-to-F system — he claims that the formula needed to be tweaked, because there’s no way Christel House should have come in so low. He claims he will be vindicated.

There are ways he could have been justified under the scenario, had the public school critic done contortions for a public school in a similar position.

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