Florida commissioner Tony Bennett responds to reported tutoring problems
Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett on Tuesday issued a statement deploring abuses in the state's Title I-supported tutoring programs, as reported over the weekend in the Tampa Bay Times, and vowing to take steps to improve the program. He called for improved background checks on tutoring companies and said he would attempt to eliminate fraud and seek compensation for any misused state funds.
Here's his full statement:
“We must demand the highest levels of accountability and integrity from supplemental educational services (SES) providers. We must hold the businesses and their leaders responsible for proving that the dollars directed to tutoring economically disadvantaged, academically struggling students produce the results intended. Our students deserve nothing less.
“The Department of Education will explore all avenues to make sure that students enrolled in SES programs will receive quality tutoring by professionals who are dedicated and committed to the educational success of each student.
“To do this we will focus on four areas.
We will work to ensure that SES providers offer a safe learning environment, which includes requiring owners to pass background checks.
We will work with the legislature to reduce costs so that they are appropriate for the actual services provided.
The department will move forward to establish benchmarks to guarantee that each child is learning what they need to be successful in the classroom. We should know that our investment in our students is producing a return.
And we will work to identify and eliminate fraud and pursue recovery of misused state resources. The department has zero tolerance for fraud.
“Supporting students whose families cannot afford the tutoring services their children need to do well in school helps ensure that all students in Florida have the kind of education that prepares them for success in college, career, and life.”