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Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

Old 07-31-13, 10:53 PM
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Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

Tony Bennett is the current chief of Florida schools, and he is a major proponent of market-based school reform (charters, vouchers, teacher merit pay, etc.).

Shortly before being voted out of the superintendent position in Indiana, it appears that Bennett cooked the books, so to speak, to ensure that his pet charter school would receive a high grade. Christel House, named for a donor who has donated millions to Republicans and thousands to Bennett, received a "C" under the original grading formula. But Bennett and his staff managed to bump the grade up to an "A" by adjusting the grading formula.

It's just a shame that this story won't make it into Diane Ravitch's new book Reign of Error, which will be published in September.

Tony Bennett, Former Indiana School Superintendent, Changed Top GOP Donor's School's Grade at

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to ensure influential donor Christel DeHaan's school received an "A," despite poor test scores in algebra that initially earned it a "C."

"They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work," Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to then-chief of staff Heather Neal, who is now Gov. Mike Pence's chief lobbyist.

The emails, which also show Bennett discussed with staff the legality of changing just DeHaan's grade, raise unsettling questions about the validity of a grading system that has broad implications. Indiana uses the A-F grades to determine which schools get taken over by the state and whether students seeking state-funded vouchers to attend private school need to first spend a year in public school. They also help determine how much state funding schools receive.
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Old 07-31-13, 11:24 PM
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Re: Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

Fred Grimm: Education chief Tony Bennett’s excuses don’t make the grade at

Initially, Christel House had a math problem. As one of Bennett’s staffers explained, the charter school’s 10th graders had a “terrible” record on their standard algebra test. Only 33 percent of the students passed. That was the “principal factor in earning the C grade.”

The staffers discussed a fix. They managed to Christel House up to a B and then thought about messing with the color charts to make a high B look like an A. Then, somehow, they found another way, never quite explained in the emails.

Bennett said this week that the grade charges had nothing in particular to do with the Christel House, or special influence. He insisted that he had only fixed a glitch in the grading system that unfairly affected a number of schools back in Indiana. “It is absurd that anyone would believe that I would change the grade of a school based on a political donor or trying to hide schools from accountability,” Bennett said

His explanation — that he was only trying to bring fairness to the grading system — doesn’t quite match up with his emails...
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Old 07-31-13, 11:26 PM
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Re: Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

I've got a number of teacher friends who were thrilled when Bennett was voted out of his position in Indiana. I'll have to chat with some of them. Wonder if they're surprised by this news.
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Old 08-01-13, 10:55 AM
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Re: Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

I actually think this is the funniest thing from the Grimm article. It is from an email Bennett wrote to his staff.

“I am more than a little miffed about this,” Bennett wrote. “I hope we come to the meeting today with solutions and not excuses and/or explanations for me to wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the past six months.”

What an idiot to write that down in an email.
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Old 08-01-13, 11:05 AM
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Re: Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

I find the thread title to be misleading and the thread itself decidedly unsexy.
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Old 08-02-13, 10:32 AM
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Re: Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

what's up with Indiana being the new Florida? Their former Superintendent of Public Instruction (this guy) was caught cheating and changing grades and their former Sec. of State, Charlie White, was found guilty of election fraud.
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Old 08-02-13, 11:55 PM
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Re: Former IN School Superintendent caught cheating

Tony Bennett should have stuck to singing.
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