Friday, October 12, 2012

Tony Bennett Selling the Big Lie about Need for Hoosier Teacher Accountability

In 2010, Tony Bennett and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) introduced relaxed teacher qualifications known as REPA.  A slideshow presented by Bennett stated the need for REPA was a grade of “D” for “policies affecting teaching quality”. This grade was given by the National Council for Teaching Quality (NCTQ).

The grade of “D” was endorsed by NCTQ’s technical panel. Tony Bennett sits on the technical panel of NCTQ.

The NCTQ’s report was described by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) as “so fundamentally flawed it is not worthy of your engagement.” The AACTE went as far to call the report “unprofessional” in its obvious attempt to deteriorate traditional education.

Perhaps the NCTQ’s report and Indiana’s grade of “D” for teaching quality policies would have never gained much merit except for a strong endorsement that followed by a group known as Chiefs for Change. 

The Chiefs for Change have only eleven members. Tony Bennett is one of them.

In sum, much of the turmoil surrounding the need for greater teacher accountability is because Bennett has said teachers need improvement and endorsed his own statement saying so. 

Bennett has a history of disregarding public opinion, or even the law, for that matter, and forcing through his plan to dismantle public education. This also might explain language found here at the IDOE website:
Final RISE rubric ratings did not sufficiently differentiate teacher performance (61% Effective, 30% Highly Effective) or identify specific teacher strengths and weaknesses (67% of teachers received no rating lower than “effective” on all 19 RISE rubric competencies). When all the data is analyzed in the fall, these ratings are unlikely to accurately reflect actual teacher and student performance.
Bennett’s mind is stuck in a bell curve; a percentage of students must always be failing, a percentage of teachers must therefore also be failing.  Bennett’s goal in Indiana is to continually fail a portion of students, teachers, and schools for the sake of privatization.

Teachers have not bought into the RISE evaluation system that creates:
  • ·         a detrimental “teach to the test” atmosphere.
  • ·         greater focus on only select students, especially “bubble” students.
  • ·         an environment of competition, not cooperation, among colleagues.
  • ·         teacher flight from schools most in need.
  • ·         less qualified teachers who do not stay in the profession.

The RISE evaluation has nothing to do with improving instruction.  Bennett purposefully took away funding for advance degrees to create funds for merit pay. (Lest we forget, Bennett stood idly by while Daniels cut $300 million from Hoosier school budgets.  This shortfall was felt most by teachers, who on average have taken huge pay cuts.  In my district, teachers have taken between a 12% and 20% pay cut over the past three years.)

As one commenter said, (Bennett is) driving down teacher’s salaries and forcing them to fight over what spare money is left. Then he is telling the public he rewards the best teachers with merit pay.

Perhaps that is why Bennett also had to include this on the IDOE webpage:
Increased collaboration and conversation promotes overall satisfaction with the new evaluation system and belief that the new system raises student achievement.
This quote is reminiscent of one attributed to Joesph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Indiana, it is time for a change.  How can Bennett think he is putting students first by continually putting teachers last?  A teacher’s working conditions are the student’s learning conditions.  Bennett’s denigration of the Hoosier teacher results in the denigration of all public education students.  

It will take years to fix the damage Bennett has wreaked on Hoosier schools.  Four more years of Tony Bennett’s policies and the damage may well be irreversible.

We need a new superintendent who will work with teachers, not against them.  Glenda Ritz needs your support.  She does not have the million plus dollar funding from huge corporations that will profit from Bennett’s privatization efforts.  For Ritz to claim victory, it will take a grass roots effort from every citizen who cares about public education in Indiana. Get out the vote for Glenda Ritz.


  1. Horace,

    I admire your dedication to reporting on the mane important education issues before the citizens of Indiana. Are you aware that Bennett has FINALLY agreed to debate Ritz?

    I am a parent deeply concerned about the dumbed down Common Core. I was troubled to hear that Thursday night Senator Kruse took a Huntington Middle School "Teacher of the Year" to try and convince a Tea Party crowd that the Common Core was great. I'm told that the teacher, Melanie Park?, said the new standards were better because they were "deeper." What a shock. From what I see, "deeper" means "dumber" or "slower.". It's why my child wastes precious class time approaching arithmetic with numerous odd methods, while spending far too little time practicing the standards algorithm. Meanwhile, the pace at which foundational skills are being taught is moving at a snails pace. What is your response to the "deeper" is better claim? What do you find to be the general consensus among teachers in Huntington or elsewhere?

    1. I have several objections to the Common Core State Standards.

      1. With the Common Core standards will come a "dumbing down" of the curriculum. The bureaucrats will include a scope and sequence of how and what is taught at what time. This will deskill the profession of teaching. Teaching will be more like an assembly line. This is what they want, so they can pay teachers much less. Ultimately, the kids will suffer.

      2. The Common Core allows huge corporations to mass produce their material and sell to big markets, instead of smaller ones. They have been driving this movement as well. Common Core will also then mean they produce national tests. And more of them. These companies do not care about quality of education for Hoosier kids, they only care about profit. Again, the quality of education will be lessened.

      3. These were never "state" standards. They are national standards, and they unconstitutional for that reason. Our forefathers, who wanted an educated society, never wanted a national school. They knew, control the curriculum, and government can control the masses. Scary stuff.

      4. The Common Core justifies the need for a national database on every student. The federal government will now collect data on every child from birth through college, and not just test scores. Again, this means we are giving the federal government total control over the information they need to control the masses. This is how democracies turn into totalitarian states.

      Be sure to email/contact your local school board, state representatives, and new governor with these objections. And be sure to vote out Tony Bennett as state superintendent!

  2. Now my quandary,...just when I had decided to vote Ritz she says unsettling things about homeschooling. I HS and have PS students. Which of my kids do I do right by?

  3. Has anyone investigated the PARCC (Common Core) assessment budget provided to the IDOE by Achieve Inc.? I asked Achieve Inc. if the Governoring Board of Directors (which Bennett is one) receives any compensation. They referred my question to someone at IDOE who told me to direct questions to him. I then found the budget allottment for PARCC, and they Board does receive travel reimbursement. They also happen to grant, if I remember correctly, a $100,000 to each state to help administer PARCC or how the DOE sees fit to use the money. Included are built in raises and fringe benefits! Achieve Inc. gets its funding from companies and foundations that support charter schools, including the Bill Gates Foundation. Anyone smell a rat?

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  5. Here is a song about Tony Bennett and the issues addressed in this post. It was written, performed and recorded by an Indiana Public School Teacher living and working under the Bennett regime. There is no attempt to profit from this song. PLEASE PASS IT ON to spread the word about the ridiculous situation in which Indiana students, families, teachers and school administrators find themselves. And yes, Vote Glenda Ritz!

    If this link doesn't work do a youtube search for "Public School Fight Song (Indiana Version)".