INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana and current Florida schools chief Tony Bennett built his national star by promising to hold "failing" schools accountable. But when it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett's education team frantically overhauled his signature "A-F" school grading system to improve the school's marks.
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. A low grade also can detract from a neighborhood and drive homebuyers elsewhere.
GOP donor's charter school is getting a "C" instead of an "A" on its school report card?
"No problem!" says Chief For Change chief Tony Bennett, "we'll change the formula and make sure that donor - who's given over $2.8 million since 1998 - gets his A"!
The change in formula still doesn't get the school an A?
"No problem!" says Chief For Change chief Tony Bennett, "we'll just change the formula again and make sure it's an A!"
I'd say this story is unbelievable, except that it's not.
Another education reform "hero" exposed as a crook and a liar.
Rhee and Bennett - Chiefs For Cheating.