According to a report by the Associated Press, former Indiana and current Florida schools chief Tony Bennett, who made somewhat of a name for himself by failing schools accountable, may have been “cooking the books” to help make sure an an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor didn’t receive a poor grade.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to ensure influential donor Christel DeHaan’s school received an “A,” despite poor test scores in algebra that initially earned it a “C.”
“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to then-chief of staff Heather Neal, who is now Gov. Mike Pence’s chief lobbyist.
The emails, which also show Bennett discussed with staff the legality of changing just DeHaan’s grade, raise unsettling questions about the validity of a grading system that has broad implications. Indiana uses the A-F grades to determine which schools get taken over by the state and whether students seeking state-funded vouchers to attend private school need to first spend a year in public school. They also help determine how much state funding schools receive.
It’s worth noting that Christel DeHaan, the founder of Christel House, has given more than $2.8 million to Republicans since 1998.
Apparently the Republican notion of “education reform” consists of throwing taxpayer dollars into voucher and charter schools and cooking the books to make sure that any failing charter or voucher schools run by big donors to the Republican Party are actually graded out as being successful schools.