Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Editorials

August 6, 2013

The hollow facade of Supt. Tony Bennett

There was a basketball gym-style scoreboard outside of then-Supt. Tony Bennett’s Statehouse office in July 2009.

A clock ticked off the time remaining in his term. The score showed Indiana’s high school graduation rate at 77.8 percent.

Bennett informed me that by the end of his term in 2012, Indiana would have a 90 percent graduation rate.

I found Bennett’s goals ambitious, even aggressive. His confidence was as audacious as NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’.

Over the three decades of covering Indiana politics and public policy, the high school graduation rate had always been in that 70th percentile. Bennett was promising to reach the 90th percentile in just four short years, coming without any significant increase in school funding. While then-Gov. Mitch Daniels had side-stepped then-Speaker Pat Bauer’s aversion to education reform by seeking changes administratively from 2007 through 2010, the real thrust of the Daniels/Bennett change didn’t pass until April 2011.

It was then that the number of charter schools increased, the voucher program began, and there were mold-splitting reforms in school and teacher grading that included the “A through F” program, and the credentialing of principals and superintendents. Bennett had made other changes early in his term such as ending half days and teacher training changing to emphasize the topics they would teach.

Lo and behold, in 2011 the Indiana graduation rate officially stood at 86.61 percent, and in Bennett’s final year in office, at a stunning 88.38 percent. It was astonishingly close to Bennett’s goal.

If these results were too good to be true, when you mined down into other data related to public education, you could see problems in the metrics. In 2006, Indiana University noted that of the 92,624 freshmen entering the state’s higher education system in 2003-04, some 23.3 percent had to take remedial courses. Essentially, this means their prep training was below university standards.

Text Only
Editorials
  • The long journey of me and my 'motorsikle' Over 45 years ago, I considered anything on fewer than four wheels as a quick way to meet my Maker well ahead of schedule.All I’d ever heard from four-wheel enthusiasts was “Them thangs is dangerous.” I heeded that advice until a motorcycling friend

    July 15, 2014

  • Our view: Throw open the doors

    As allegations and scandals continue to explode about hidden wait lists and cooked books at VA medical care facilities across the country, with hints of even more heinous findings to come, we have to wonder why it's business as usual in our nation's

    May 29, 2014

  • Why I still have faith in Congress From the perspective of decades, there is good reason to believe that Congress can and will do better. It's depressing to read poll after poll highlighting Americans' utter disdain for Congress. But it's my encounters with ordinary citizens at public

    May 29, 2014

  • Stay informed, stay prepared, stay safe I can remember last November when I was on the phone and working at my computer to try to help get the message out about the dangerous storms facing much of the state. Many of our local towns were under tornado warnings for much of the day, includin

    April 29, 2014

  • Making a house a home On a shelf in the home office of Gov. Mike Pence are some cowboy spurs and an old pair of riding boots -- signs of how the first-term executive and his family relax in their spare time. Last summer, one of Pence's daughters cleaned stalls in a horse

    April 29, 2014

  • Hoosier farmers are Indiana heroes Many in our community know that farming is not just a profession; it is a lifestyle. Agriculture in Indiana is a large and diverse industry that plays a vital role in the economic stability of our state. Many of our neighbors, friends and families ge

    April 3, 2014

  • Thanks for letting me tell your stories I didn't want to be a reporter, or even a writer, when I was a little girl. From the age of eight, I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. I never even considered being anything else. All my little girl fantasies of being an astronaut or a rock star we

    April 3, 2014

  • The empty chair and memories On the wall in our living room hangs a large painting that I bought at a small art show several years ago. It is a simple painting with rich, deep gold and burgundy oil colors that I enjoy. Just off center in this painting is a cozy, green arm chair

    November 26, 2013

  • Alzheimer's awareness brings passion for purple Dear Editor: Every October the country goes pink in support of breast cancer research. It's a beautiful sight. The underlying message is one of a vast network of support from family, friends, and total strangers. I would love to s

    September 10, 2013

  • March on Washington - then and now In 1960, I watched John Lewis and other black college students march past our Nashville, Tenn., high school on their trips downtown to the sit-ins. In 1963, while I was preparing for my senior year, Medgar Evers

    September 3, 2013