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Monday, May 2, 2016

Bennett speaks about reform, bargaining

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett responds to a question posed by an audience member during the Clay County Republican Club meeting Monday at the Clay County Senior Citizen's Center. [Order this photo]
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett attempted to dispel rumors circulating about education reform and the impending collective bargaining legislation Monday night.

Bennett spoke to the Clay County Republican Club at the Brazil Senior Center, receiving both praise and criticism from the audience.

He opened by summarizing federal and state education reform. Bennett said federally, he disagreed with the Obama administration's education philosophies, but he applauded the administration's decision to make education a top priority.

"The Indiana education budget will not do anything worse than flat line this year," Bennett said. "Fifty-five percent of state funds go to education. Last year, there was only a 3-percent education cut. We are the state with the largest percentage of funds going to education."

Bennett said his main concern as superintendent is, "will the education reform taking place help Indiana's entire population of children?"

"My public is the 1.2 million children (in Indiana)," Bennett said.

He later added his responsibilities were not only to those students attending public schools. Bennett supports public, private, home, and charter schools.

Charter schools have been a "hot button" issue lately. Charter schools are like a hybrid between public and private schools. These schools can receive money from the state, but are for profit institutions.

Many parents and educators have expressed concerns about what will happen with education if this reform is passed.

Terre Haute North Vigo High School Biology teacher Denise Sobieski said she thinks there is a "conflict of interest here," because Bennett's wife is involved in charter schools.

"I cry sometimes when I think of the kids that don't have supportive parents who wouldn't make it in a charter school," Sobieski said.

Rumors about decreasing teachers' salaries are circulating. Bennett said these rumors are not factual. He plans to change the way teachers and schools are evaluated by implementing a grading system. Bennett said teachers will no longer receive pay increases for seniority alone. He wants to hold teachers and school accountable for their productivity and effectiveness.

With this legislation in place, teachers would be evaluated over time. Great teachers and administrators would receive pay increases.

"If a child enters sixth-grade with a fourth-grade education reading level, it is a moral imperative for that child to move from a fourth-grade to a fifth-grade level by the end of the school year," Bennett said.

If a teacher was found to be less effective than expected to be, the teacher would be required to complete personal development training to improve. Their pay would not decrease, and they would not lose their job. However, if the teacher did not improve over time, their position could be jeopardized.

Bennett explained 99 percent of teachers are rated effective or above in Indiana.

"Chances of a teacher being fired under the current evaluation system are less than them being struck by lightning," Bennett said.

He reassured audience members he was not attacking public schools and he wanted to reform evaluation systems to put students first.

Sobieski expressed during the meeting she felt like she was being attacked, along with the other educators, adding she felt good teachers were not paid their worth.

Staunton Elementary School teacher and Republican candidate for City Council Dustin Jorgensen disagreed with Sobieski. He agrees with Bennett, and thinks that experience should be evaluated more qualitatively than quantitatively.

"He (Bennett) wants to apply common sense and a democratic feel, when it hasn't been there in the past. Before, experience was looked at in the number of years someone has worked as opposed to actual experience gained," Jorgensen said.

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Another republican lying to the public!

-- Posted by BTruth1958 on Wed, Mar 23, 2011, at 12:31 AM

Really. Can you offer any proof?

-- Posted by Conservative Dad on Wed, Mar 23, 2011, at 6:26 AM

Reality CHECK! A student that has a fourth grade education SHOULDN'T be entering the sixth grade anyway. They are not ready for it and, if they improve to the fifth grade level, then they still start the seventh grade two years behind. That means that on Graduation Day, they have a tenth grade education. Pushing them through the education system only sets them up for failure in their adult life!

Historically, we had public schools where most taxpayers send their children and we had private schools where some parents choose to send their children at their own expense. In recent years, charter schools have been formed that take public school funding and siphon off part of what they receive as profit. Now, the administration wants to expand on this? Why should the taxpayer pay a profit margin when we fund education in public schools where the bulk of the dollar goes, or should go, straight into the classroom and to the students as educational experience?

Legislation has been introduced to lower the required education and license requirements of teachers for charter schools from being fully qualified to teach in public schools to holding any college degree and allowing 49% of the teachers in such a school to be unlicensed as an educator. How will that be beneficial to education in that school and, if it is beneficial to EDUCATION, why aren't we doing it in PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

Dr. Bennett, I'd like to remind you of something. You are not the Czar of Education, the King of Knowledge, or the Wizard of Wisdom. Your title is the Superintendent of PUBLIC INSTRUCTION! Your entire being should be focused on improving PUBLIC education, not private schools or hybrid schools.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Mar 23, 2011, at 2:57 PM

"You are not the Czar of Education, the King of Knowledge, or the Wizard of Wisdom."

You are not the above either, Leo & I don't remember seeing you at the meeting on Monday. Dr. Bennett does not want a child struggling to be promoted. He has a tremendous amount of compassion for children and, as a matter of fact, is extremely intelligent.

As for his focus on public schools only, Dr. Bennett chooses to focus on ALL INDIANA SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN.

-- Posted by karebabe on Wed, Mar 23, 2011, at 4:50 PM

Cannot make every meeting that I would like to, karebabe.

While Dr. Bennett may have a lot of compassion, his job demands that he be focused on the problems of the job which he holds. That is PUBLIC education, that is what the public is paying him to oversee.

While he can set standards for home-schooling, he cannot walk into someone's home and oversee instruction. He should not be advocating the withdrawal of any funding from the public school system, even for charter schools, he should be solving the problem of getting more dollars into the classroom in public schools and fighting "tooth and nail" at getting more money for education in general. He might not succeed, but he should be taking every opportunity to make the effort.

I agree with him on some of the accountability issues. Frankly, I disagree with judging a teacher on how students do on standardized tests just as I would with judging a student on one test. I see education as a process and you cannot judge how effective it is from a "snapshot". You must be able to judge progress over time.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Mar 23, 2011, at 6:49 PM

I sho dues apreciates mize Cray Countes emducations. Dem da taugts me weadin...whiten...and rismatics. Nows ifs they only taughts I hovs to get FMLA ansd disablattities.

-- Posted by WickedSpring64 on Wed, Mar 23, 2011, at 8:32 PM

The article does say that the effectiveness of the teacher will be evaluated over a span of time, not a "snapshot" of one year. Bennett said that if their effectiveness does not improve over the course of three years the teacher will be required to take personal development training and if they do not improve after that the school will look into replacing the teacher.

In addition, no students currently performing at a lower grade level than they are in should not be advancing to the next level, but sometimes they do. Bennett was trying to say that he wants every child to advance at least a year per year they are in school regardless of where they started at the beginning of the year.

-- Posted by Kimberly_1984 on Fri, Mar 25, 2011, at 4:35 PM

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