Today's news -- August 1, 2013

 

Bennett’s excuses don’t make the grade

Grown-ups might not buy Tony Bennett’s tortured explanation for jacking up that C grade to an A, but every school child in Florida understands the rationale. Sometimes a middling C, as Tony told his underlings back in Indiana on Sept. 12, 2012, can be a “HUGE problem for us.” Us too, say the kids. The HUGE problem to which Tony was referring was the C grade scored by an Indianapolis charter school. At the time, Bennett was still Indiana state superintendent of education. (Two months later, voters would knock him out of office. Gov. Rick Scott, with his penchant for losers, hired Bennett to be his education commissioner in Florida.) This was not just any charter school, as Bennett made clear in a cache of emails uncovered this week by the Associated Press in Indiana. This was Christel House, namesake of school founder and very generous Republican donor Christel DeHaan. “Oh, crap,” his despondent assistant superintendent told Bennett. “We cannot release until this is resolved.” The emails reveal Bennett and his staff working frantically over the next nine days, while his office delayed the statewide release of all the A-F school grades, to find some way to jack up Christel House’s grade. The word “loophole” pops up at least four times in the exchanges.  Bennett denies that his office’s panicked reaction to Christel House’s C had anything to do with the $2.8 million that DeHaan has donated to the Indiana Republican Party since 1988. Or, more specifically, the $130,000 she had donated to his own election campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Bennett had cited the virtues of Christel House as he went around the Indiana trying to rally support for his plan to channel public school kids into charter schools. He had described Christel House as an A school to legislators, state business leaders and, according to the email, to the DeHaan herself. “I am more than a little miffed about this,” Bennett wrote. “I hope we come to the meeting today with solutions and not excuses and/or explanations for me to wiggle myself out of the repeated lies I have told over the past six months.” In Indiana, as in Florida since, Bennett has been a big champion of Common Core standards and rigid school ratings. Not always so rigid, as it turned out. “They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability,” he told his chief of staff.  Initially, Christel House had a math problem. As one of Bennett’s staffers explained, the charter school’s 10th graders had a “terrible” record on their standard algebra test. Only 33 percent of the students passed. That was the “principal factor in earning the C grade.” The staffers discussed a fix. They managed to Christel House up to a B and then thought about messing with the color charts to make a high B look like an A. Then, somehow, they found another way, never quite explained in the emails. Bennett said this week that the grade charges had nothing in particular to do with the Christel House, or special influence. He insisted that he had only fixed a glitch in the grading system that unfairly affected a number of schools back in Indiana. “It is absurd that anyone would believe that I would change the grade of a school based on a political donor or trying to hide schools from accountability,” Bennett said His explanation -- that he was only trying to bring fairness to the grading system -- doesn’t quite match up with his emails. But, if fairness was his true motivation, educators from a number of tough, inner city schools in South Florida, charged with educating poor immigrant kids with profound language disadvantages, have similarly argued that the rigid statewide FCAT rules come up with unfair results.  But somewhere between Indianapolis and Tallahassee, Bennett seems to have lost his urgent and noble determination to fix those grading disparities. For consistency, the commissioner grades out at a D. Of course, if we round up a bit, and shade the color charter just so, it might look like a C.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/31/3534811/fred-grimm-education-chief-tony.html

http://tbo.com/list/news-opinion-editorials/bennetts-troubling-test-score-20130801/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-tony-bennett-grade-change-beth-kassab-20130731,0,6774280.column

 

Scott supports Bennett; Democrats call for his ouster

Gov. Rick Scott is backing Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, who has been caught in a firestorm of criticism sparked by an Associated Press investigation. The AP reported this week that Bennett and his staff in Indiana worked to change the grade of a charter school founded by a prominent contributor to Republican candidates. Speaking in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, Scott said he thought Bennett was doing a “great job.” “He is very focused on accountability,” Scott said. "He is very focused on making sure we have the No. 1 school system in the country.” Two South Florida lawmakers say it is time for Bennett to go and called for his resignation. “How can we trust Florida school grades now?” said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa. “How can we trust them with Tony Bennett in charge? I think his professional integrity is in question here.”

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/florida-education-commissioner-faces-calls-for-res/nY86n/?icmp=pbp_internallink_textlink_apr2013_pbpstubtomypbp_launch

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=33873455

http://touch.orlandosentinel.com/#section/1233/article/p2p-76861109/

 

Bennett takes care of his A-list

http://www.indystar.com/article/20130730/OPINION/307300033/Dan-Carpenter-Bennett-takes-care-his-list

 

Hoosiers blast Bennett for school grades flap

http://www.chestertontribune.com/Indiana%20News/guest_commentary_on_the_school_g.htm

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/locals-blast-bennett-for-school-grades-flap/article_5d8e83e6-f922-5f6b-b9c1-5859b30d478a.html

http://www.indystar.com/article/20130731/NEWS05/307310091

http://my.firedoglake.com/dougmartin/2013/07/31/school-superintendent-tony-bennetts-mega-millionaire-charter-school-what-else-you-should-know/

 

Hillsborough school district welcomes more than 1,000 new teachers (Jean Clements quoted)
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/a-thousand-new-teachers-are-welcomed-to-hillsborough/2134165

 

Leon County overhauls teacher evaluation system (FEA mentioned)
http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20130801/POLITICSPOLICY08/308010029?source=nletter-top5

 

Pasco schools consider cutting early retirement benefit (Ed Ronda quoted)
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/pasco-schools-consider-cutting-early-retirement-benefit/2134150

 

UTM, district negotiating supplemental pay (Holly Hummell-Gorman quoted)
http://www.keysnet.com/2013/07/31/488669/union-district-negotiating-supplemental.html

 

Palm Beach district and union holding two day event for new teachers (CTA mentioned)
http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/extracredit/2013/07/31/school-district-and-union-holding-two-day-event-for-new-teachers/

 

Some teachers will get plastic to buy school supplies this year (Mark Pudlow quoted)

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-teachers-get-debit-cards-for-supplies-2-20130731,0,2246368.story

 

A story about Michelle Rhee that no one will print

http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6490

 

Congress approves student loan plan

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/us/politics/an-unusual-feat-in-congress-student-loan-bill-breezes-on.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress-approves-student-loan-plan/2013/07/31/e3df776a-f9f4-11e2-8752-b41d7ed1f685_story.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/house-passes-student-loan-rate-fix-95018.html

 

Departing professor: Cuts have “massacred” UF psychology department

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130731/ARTICLES/130739915/1002/news01?Title=Departing-professor-Cuts-have-massacred-UF-psychology-department

 

From Tallahassee to Miami, protestors dog Scott

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/07/from-tallahassee-to-miami-protestors-dog-rick-scott.html

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/gov-rick-scott-jesse-jackson-owes-every-floridian-an-apology-for-his/2134112

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268748/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=NeYmwDr6

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=33873188

 

Give federal government some oversight of Florida’s new voter purge

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/editorial-give-federal-government-some-oversight-o/nY9ML/?icmp=pbp_internallink_textlink_apr2013_pbpstubtomypbp_launch

 

White House lays out benefits to Floridians from Obamacare

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/blogs/political-pulse/os-white-house-lays-out-benefits-to-floridians-from-obamacare-20130731,0,7278284.post

 

Obama's better bargain and our perverse politics

http://www.thenation.com/blog/175540/obamas-better-bargain-and-our-perverse-politics

 

Felon voting rights have a bigger impact on elections than voter ID laws

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/31/felon-voting-rights-impact-on-elections

 

Obama's trump card on immigration

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-peacock-immigration-deportation-house-20130801,0,2692266.story

 

A day’s strike seeks to raise fast-food pay

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/business/strike-for-day-seeks-to-raise-fast-food-pay.html

 

 

 0 user(s) rated this page
Login to leave a comment
No Comments yet