Coalition Statement on Bennett Indiana Grade Change Revelations

July, 2013

Little did the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition realize when we were composing yesterday's press release about false information being disseminated from the Tony Bennett led Florida Department of Education and alluded to the Florida  school grade data manipulation, that there would be such dramatic and immediate confirmation of our concerns. 

The decision of the State Board of Education to follow Bennett's recommendation to continue doctoring school grade data by limiting drops to one letter grade was already controversial enough, barely passing by a vote of 4-3.  Board members that opposed that decision questioned the integrity of the grading system and rightly pointed out that it was becoming "acceptable to manipulate the truth just because the truth has become uncomfortable."  The Coalition believes that this decision was made to make Bennett and the Department of Education look good while trying to save the reputation of Florida's unworkable school accountability plan that has not done anything to narrow the achievement gap or decrease the appallingly high number of high school graduates that need remediation in college.

The news yesterday of strong evidence that then Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett and the Indiana Department of Education changed that state's grading system to make sure that the charter school owned by a wealthy donor to Bennett's campaign received an "A" grade adds further fuel to the fire.

"This news of such massive corruption from his time in Indiana obviously casts major doubt on the credibility of his school grade system changes here in Florida, on Tony Bennett's fitness to serve as Commissioner of Education, and on the entire accountability scheme of using high stakes testing based on government imposed standards like the Common Core to control schools, teachers, and students," said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.  "The system was already so complicated and arbitrary that it was close to meaningless.  With this new stench of corruption from Bennett's previous job in the midst of implementation of the dubious Common Core standards and tests, how can parents, taxpayers, and policymakers have any confidence at all in Florida's public education system?"

"All of these issues raise serious concerns about the integrity and honesty of Commissioner Bennett's leadership for the education of our children.  They also raise significant questions about the wisdom of implementing the Common Core system that he so heavily promotes.  We need local control of our schools by parents and duly elected school board members, not unaccountable, appointed government bureaucrats and foundations," said Effrem.

Contact: Chrissy Blevio   

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