Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Report says confusion caused flap that led Bennett to resign as education chief

The Indiana school grading controversy that led to Tony Bennett's resignation as Florida education commissioner resulted more from bureaucratic struggles than impropriety, according to a report issued Friday.

Bennett said in an interview he expected these results all along. But he did not believe it would have been appropriate to remain as Florida commissioner while awaiting the outcome.

"I have spent an inordinate amount of time over the last months making sure we provided everything we had to the investigators," he said. "I didn't believe I could do those things and be commissioner of Florida."

He stressed that he was not pushed out by Gov. Rick Scott, who faces a re-election bid in 2014. Bennett was the fifth person to serve as education commissioner during Scott's term.

"Gov. Scott was good to me. I appreciate the opportunity he gave me to come here and serve," Bennett said. "It was the fact that I was accused of a pretty serious offense. … That was going to be a distraction. I didn't believe that would be fair to anyone in Florida."

The report, commissioned by the Republican leaders of Indiana's House and Senate, states that Bennett's Indiana team did not anticipate all the complexities of implementing a school grade system and therefore struggled to deal with what they saw as incongruities.

Issues came to a head when Bennett learned that a well-regarded charter school, run by a prominent political supporter, was slated to get a C grade. His department scrambled to ensure that the school got the grade that Bennett said the school deserved, as reported by the Associated Press a year later in stories that started the questioning that led to Bennett's abrupt departure from his Florida post.

The report, written by a non-governmental group called Policy Analytics, concluded that Bennett applied the same grade changes he made for the charter school to all other schools that met the same criteria, 165 in all. The method was "plausible," the report stated, although the grading effort still did not have a level of trust or understanding among many members of the public, including many Indiana education leaders.

Policy Analytics did not delve into political motivations behind the decisions. Bennett supporters applauded the report as proof he was right, while doubters continued to question his actions.

Indiana, like Florida, is now reviewing its school grading model to determine if any changes are required. Policy Analytics made several recommendations, which could apply to any state dealing with a grading formula. The group said states should:

• Provide for extensive involvement by educators and education experts.

• Be transparent in all decisionmaking.

• Develop new systems that are simple, more easily understood and equitable.

Participants in a recent Florida education summit discussed similar ideas as leaders revisit the state's accountability and grading model.

Bennett said he did not intend to be part of the conversation. Florida is a closed chapter in his life, he said, adding that he is looking to move back to southern Indiana.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Indiana Legislature's report on that state's school grading system

 

Report says confusion caused flap that led Bennett to resign as education chief 09/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 6, 2013 10:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]