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Did Education Commissioner Tony Bennett change the grade of an Indiana charter school?

Emails obtained by the Associated Press suggest that when he ran Indiana’s schools, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett intervened to hike the grade of a supporter’s charter school from a C to an A. 

Bennett told the Times/Herald Monday that the school, Christel House Academy, was among the top-performing charter schools in Indiana. If it hadn't earned an A, that meant something was wrong with the entire grading system, he said.

"It had nothing to do with politics," he said.

Bennett said that Indiana was in the midst of finalizing its school grading formula when the email exchange took place. He said he had hoped to use high-performing schools like Christel House to calibrate the system.

"We needed to make sure the school grades reflected how the schools really performed," he said.

Read the story here.


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I read the AP article on this topic. The Christel House Academy went from a C to an A with TWO adjustments. So they tried to "fix" the grade once, but it wasn't enough. So they went back for a 2nd "fix." I don't think it matters if the same "fix" was applied to other combination schools. It is clear from the e-mails that this absolutely was POLITICAL. Does Mr. Bennett apply a similar "fix" to combination schools in Florida today?

Cathy B

So if it really was based on data it should have been on those test scores. NOT your personal belief it was a good school. Seriously on what basis did it earn an A?

Barrie Ottersbach

He committed fraud in Indiana for political donations. He should be tried for political fraud!


This is what happens when you put politicians in charge of bureaucracies. Remember, Bennett was an elected education chief in Indiana.

The most important questions about this are: 1) When did Gov. Scott learn about this, and 2) If not before he put Bennett in the ed comm job here, why not?

It's bad enough that the Legislature keeps monkeying around with how we grade schools, but to have a monkey in charge of the grading bureaucracy is even worse.


Bennett was fired (diselected by the voters) in Indiana by a political unknown with about a tenth of the money to campaign with. This was before we knew about his grade rigging scheme, so he had pretty well disgusted Indiana voters a long time ago.

Sorry for your bad luck in having this crooked clown wind up in your state. But your loss is our gain.

An Indiana voter.

Mary Tiede Wilhelmus

Perhaps Florida should tell Tony what he told us, "We're moving on without you."


Mr. Bennett alienated most public educators in Indiana with a crash program of legislation of subjective/confusing school report cards based mainly on high stakes testing, increasing vouchers for nonpublic schools, freezing teacher pay, attacks on teachers. While many states have addressed their schools' shortcomings with similar legislation, Mr. Bennett was quite dictatorial in that very little was done with input from professional educators in the state. Much of his agenda was initiated in one year over the objections of many educators and students' parents. Florida educators, beware!

sue williams

As a former teacher who worked under Tony Bennett this act of fraud comes as no surprise! While he was at the vocational school in Southern Indiana it was not uncommon for him to have his brother-in-law (who worked maintenance at the same vocational school)& another maintenance worker to go and cut his lawn, trim hedges, etc., while on school time!He used the school system to benefit only himself. The only thing he did while at the school was go to his office, close the door and work on his PhD homework, all on school time. I must say, during that time, he left us alone & let us teach, etc., because he was so busy doing his homework! Also, did no one in Florida notice that he hired his own wife to run the Charter schools in Indiana? He also made sure that the college his wife was an instructor at got more $$ AFTER he passed the charter school stuff!Florida remember this:
"When the first (public) school closes because it cannot meet the needs, we will be successful. What a beautiful day that will be."

--Tony Bennett, Superintendent of Public Schools,
September 2010.

Keven Hewitt

Mr. Bennett was soundly defeated in the last election because the citizens of Indiana were fed up with his overhaul of our public education system...mainly the creation of voucher/charter schools, and the cumbersome and inane accountability requirements for schools. This latest fiasco merely affirms that we were right in voting him out. He should be prosecuted for this, but probably never will be. Keep your eyes on him, Florida voters, he is a self-serving snake.

David Owen

There is a reason Indiana ran him out of the state and the faster Floridians get rid of him and his lies, the better off the kids will be. Follow the money, that is the tax payers money going to private, for profit schools and how they get control of the public schools by state take overs. We in Indiana felt sorry for you when he went there. Get rid of the bum before he screws up everything that good.

retired educator

People who rely on numbers to PROVE children are learning have created an enormous industry. A testing company creates, another company prints, still other companies distribute and even more grade "tests." These people get rich on the backs of our nation's school children. Textbook companies build entire textbook series (which they sell to school systems over and over) to cross reference these textbooks with the "standards" on the high-stakes tests. As a retired school administrator, I can remember being required to proctor state tests with children with exceptionalities who could not sit in their seats long enough to answer three questions in a row. And their scores counted! I viewed this as cruelty to children. When will the people with the power to do something about this remember that the goal of education is to make well-rounded CITIZENS who will become wage earners and pay their taxes and vote in elections? Teaching is an art as well as a science. There were plenty of tests that measured student achievement BEFORE the accountability movement. Of course students need to be tested. But not out of their minds!! And the very idea of changing criteria to make sure certain schools receive high "scores" is nothing but sleezy!! No amount of tap dancing to say "readjustments" were made can convince me that this is anything but politics as usual at the expense of school children. Only when parents and career educators stand up to these people will practices change. Thank you to the media for reporting, and keep the stories coming.

Keven Hewitt

I just heard the good news.....the snake resigned. He went down pretty easily. I expected more of a fight from him.

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