Tony Bennett destroys his and Florida’s credibility.

From the Tampa Times editorial staff

It turns out FLORIDA Education Commissioner Tony Bennett faces an even bigger challenge than winding down a discredited testing system and answering demands from legislative leaders to design new assessments for the Common Core State Standards. Now his personal credibility is at stake because of the way he manipulated school test results in Indiana, and his explanation is hardly reassuring.
The Associated Press first reported this week that as head of Indiana schools last fall Bennett insisted that a charter school founded by a powerful Republican donor receive an A grade instead of a C. Bennett’s emails left no doubt about his intentions for Christel House Academy even as his staff questioned whether it would be legal to change the letter grade.
“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in one email before adding in another, “This will be a HUGE problem for us.”
Now it is a huge problem for Bennett. The credibility of the school grading system in Florida is in shreds, highlighted by the frustration over the depressing letter grades that were released Friday. Those grades show a downward spiral even after Bennett pushed to limit the decline for each school to no more than one letter grade. School superintendents throughout the state complain that the grades do not accurately reflect the learning taking place in many districts.
Bennett says he did not play favorites in Indiana and that the state’s grading system was being adjusted at the time. He told the Times/Herald that he wanted to “make sure the grades reflected how the school really performed.” Of course, that is the same issue being raised by teachers and principals in Florida as one Board of Education member wondered whether the state should even release school letter grades. Now the education commissioner explaining the Florida system has manipulated the Indiana system to benefit a Republican donor that gave his political campaigns more than $100,000.
The revelation makes the motivation behind Bennett’s moves in Florida more suspect. He is a politician, a favorite of conservatives and a strong advocate of charter schools and vouchers that use public money to cover private school tuition. Will Bennett bend over backward in Florida to tweak performance standards to protect charter schools? Will he be swayed by political pressure from testing companies as he decides whether to recommend that Florida design its own tests for the Common Core State Standards?
When Florida voters reduced the size of the elected state Cabinet, one of the benefits was transforming the state education commissioner from an elected position to an appointed one that should be less susceptible to political considerations. But Bennett is a politician, and now it’s clearer what side he chooses when partisan politics collide with public policy — and it’s not policy.
Editorial: Bennett’s credibility called into question 07/30/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 5:21pm]

We need to let people know we aren’t happy with Tony Bennett and his privatization at any cost agenda

 Florida Friends, I hope you all take the time tomorrow to
write your local paper and notify your elected representatives about Tony
Bennett. If a teacher were caught conspiring with a parent to change a
student’s grade they would be fired, instead Bennett got a campaign donation
and a job in Florida.
This revelation is proof Tony Bennett, Jeb Bush, etc. aren’t
interest in having the right answer, just having their answer, the
privatization of public education and the destruction of the teaching profession,
be right. It could also mean that they lose all credibility.  If we let people know about what they have

Take five minutes, write a letter to the editor, and
then cut and paste it and send it to your representative. We should have people
who care about our schools and children not special interests, be in charge.

These links will help you find your Florida senator and representative respectively…

Did Gary Chartrand have grades changed to benefit his charter school?

I wrote this only about two weeks ago but in light of the Tony Bennett revelations isn’t this a question the media should be asking?
Why did Gary Chartrand feel the need to deceive the people of Florida
Lets not mince words, the state board of education voted to decieve to the people of Florida when they said school grades could only fall one letter grade regardless of performance. They know most people are not going to do the due diligence to research what a school’s grade actually is.
Now follow me for a second. Gary Chartrand has a personal stake in seeing Jacksonville’s KIPP charter school do well. He invested a lot of money into it; he sits on the board and has touted it as a savior. He is so immersed in it doing well he isn’t above playing fast and lose with the facts.
He said, “since KIPP was founded in 1994, more than 90 percent of its students have graduated high school and more than 80 percent have attended college”, he left out the caveat, which was on the KIPP web-site that this only applies for the kids who finished 8th grade. By that time they have weeded out the poorer performers. He continued saying, “Of those, 40 percent have obtained college degrees.” Chartrand often plays fast and loose with the facts if it doesn’t back up what he is saying and that 40% stat is no exception.

This is also from the KIPP website. As of fall 2012, 40.2 percent of KIPP alumni who completed eighth grade at KIPP ten or more years ago have graduated from a four-year college. This number is drawn from two KIPP middle schools, the only schools with alumni old enough to have reached this threshold.

So it’s not all KIPP schools mind you, it’s two and if he is going to leave that out, if he is going to attempt to deceive to make his point, then what won’t he lie about? What he also didn’t mention is that KIPP has a reputation for counseling out its poor performers; see the 8th grade caveat which greatly skews its results again and that KIPP spends about a third more than public schools do to educate their kids.

He then went on to say, KIPP offers a longer school day and year, after-school programs and highly-qualified instructors to teach an academic program that focuses on college prep and character development. Now it is true they do have a longer day but everything I have read indicates their curriculum is kill and drill. Have you noticed how KIPP isn’t replicated at the affluent private schools and how none of the education reformers send their children to KIPP schools? Furthermore many of its instructors are TFA recruits, which takes non-education majors and gives them five weeks of “training” and says good luck. I guess to Chartrand that is highly qualified because it is 5 more weeks of teacher training than he ever received. 

We’re almost there. KIPP after being the worst performing school in Northeast Florida improved to a B its second year, well friends its projected to fall to a C this year, protected by what we could call the Chartrand rule from falling to a D.
I know what you are thinking, would this guy at the top of the food chain, really vote for a rule just to protect one school he had a personal stake in?

My answer is why not. He’s exaggerated publicly their accomplishments and he has a lot invested in them, it would probably be a little embarrassing at the country club if somebody brought it up and people have done far worse for less.

Jeb Bush’s foundation doubles down on lies about Charter Schools

I don’t envy Jeb Bush, Patricia Levesque and Tony Bennett
hunkered down in their bunker furiously coming up with ways to spin the
revelation that Tony Bennett had the grades of a wealthy donors charter school
adjusted for a C to an A. It must be frustrating to see their house of card
crumbing down around them.
I don’t envy them but I don’t feel sorry for them either.
Their unethical policies designed to enrich their friends and donors have held
back children and knee capped the proud profession of public school teacher.
is what Patricia Levesque said in The Tampa Times, “Commissioner
Bennett and his department found and corrected a mistake that would have
unfairly penalized 13 schools missing data for grades they did not even serve.
They fixed a problem to be accurate and fair – any accusation otherwise is
false and politically motivated,” reads the statement released by Bush’s foundation Tuesday
goes on: “A-F school grading empowers parents to know how well schools are
serving their children, in a transparent and easy to understand way. In 2012,
Indiana was in its first year of its new school grading calculation, and there
is always a learning process when implementing a policy new to a state.
Not, wow, if he did that we should get rid of him, because
getting things right for our children is most important. I really feel as if
the press could catch Bennett with a dead girl or a live boy and they would
spin it in a positive light. 
If they wanted to retain any shred of credibility should
have taken a tact similar to Teresa Meredith in the Chesterton Tribune: it’s time to call the Bennett
school letter grade scandal exactly what it is—cheating.
Emails obtained by the Associated Press and released Monday
show that former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett
and his staff worked furiously last September to artificially raise the letter
grade of the Christel House Academy, an Indianapolis charter school created by
a prominent donor to both Bennett’s political campaign and to others in his
political party.
are no excuses for the actions taken by Bennett and his staff as revealed in
the string of emails other than favoritism, cronyism, self-interest, and
hubris—none of which has a place in public school policymaking.

Finally, what else have they manipulated, spun or lied
about to further their agenda. My guess is this is just the tip of the iceberg.