Minda Corso

Progress trumped by misguided ideology in Indiana

In EdReform on November 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm

By: Patricia Levesque

Reform champion Tony Bennett lost his bid for reelection as Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction on Tuesday to a coalition of reactionaries- the usual opponents of reform joined by conservative opponents of Common Core.

Honest people can and do disagree over the Common Core State Standards, but the sort of arguments against it seen repeated in the Indiana press can only be described as breathtakingly unsophisticated. I won’t go into detail regarding the fog of misperception fanned by Common Core opponents.

Let me briefly say however that as “federal takeovers” go, Common Core makes for an odd one indeed- voluntarily adopted by states that are free to leave the effort whenever they like without the slightest penalty. Somehow the “National Governor’s Association” morphed into either the federal government, the Trilateral Commission and/or the Illuminati in the imaginations of Common Core opponents.

Tony served the people of Indiana with honor, vigor and distinction.

His guiding principle was always to pursue the interests of students by improving public school achievement by any and all means.

Tony’s campaign was a terrible loss- for both the children of Indiana and the reform movement more broadly. The campaign however continues, and a number of crucial victories were won on the very same night.

While sadder and perhaps wiser, we remain undeterred in our conviction to deliver a system of education which provides the opportunity for every child to reach their God-given potential.

We look forward to continuing the fight with Tony in whatever role he chooses next.

Patricia is the Executive Director for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy.  Contact Patricia at PatriciaLevesque@ExcelinEd.org.

  1. Bennett’s reform ideas were neither wanted nor needed in Indiana.

    Sorry you misinterpreted some of the many reasons why Dr. Tony Bennett was defeated (I cite one example below of which I personally know about). He was regularly dismissive of input on even the smallest details of his reform plans. Then like a desk-bound general, he attacked his troops without finding out what was needed to carry out his reforms.

    I attended a meeting at Rochester (Indiana) High School in October 2009 where Indiana Department of Education officials took “input” from the public about teacher licensing rules (REPA). The audience consisted of teachers, state representatives, school superintendents, and education professors. Speaker after speaker spoke out against Bennett’s reforms; not one embraced the IDOE’s new plans which sought to streamline (actually de-professionalize) teacher ed. One education professor said “Come to us; tap our expertise. We [professional educators] will help you get it right.” Bennett’s IDOE officials listened dutifully, but in the end Bennett and the IDOE rammed this program through without any modifications.

    By the way, if you or your organization ever expects to have any credibility with classroom teachers, I suggest you take a substitute teaching position in a public school for a week. If you’re qualified, you’d be welcome as a sub.

    But If all you can do is pontificate about what’s wrong with public education but you know nothing about what’s happening on the ground, then your views are as blinkered as Bennett’s. We teachers need support from policymakers, not more obstacles. We would like your help, but if all we get is meddling from administrators like Bennett (and lawmakers who enact his misbegotten ideas), then none of us will get the excellence we crave.

    You want to know more about why Bennett was defeated? Read below:



  2. Well then Patricia, follow him to Florida, because we don’t want him here. If he was truly about fighting for public instruction, then he would have stayed and fought, but he is going where the $$$ is.
    I am a supporter of Common Core, a non-union teacher, and a child advocate. I believe that the solution to remediation and getting a child to literacy is not in corporate interest and programs that bleed the dollars from our students. The solutions are in practice and approach, things that cost a fraction of what the publishing companies are postioning themselves to take from us. I’m sure that you and Bennett don’t mind the windfall from such interests. You are not progressive and Florida is not progressive when it comes to education.

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