Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

'Brash, But Effective': Times of Northwest Indiana Endorses Tony Bennett

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Tony Bennett speaks to reporters in his statehouse office.

Framing this year’s election of Indiana’s top school official as a choice between maintaining the status quo or “rapid changes” to the state’s education policy, The Times of Northwest Indiana says it chooses continuing change.

The Munster-based newspaper’s editorial board endorsed GOP incumbent Tony Bennett in the state superintendent’s race Wednesday. Here’s their rationale:

Click to view our coverage of the issues and candidates.

Look at what Bennett has done. His push for school accountability helped the Lake Ridge School Board convert Calumet High School to the New Tech method, which is producing good results. Without the threat of a state takeover, would that bold step have been taken?

“I like to say Indiana is where reform meets results,” Bennett said. The results are improvements in the quality of education in Indiana, for which the state is receiving national recognition.

“What we were doing for generations wasn’t working,” Bennett said. He’s right.

Bennett is brash, but extremely effective, as we have seen at Calumet and Roosevelt high schools.

As we wrote Monday, Democrat Glenda Ritz earned the support of another newspaper over the weekend: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette‘s editorial board endorsed her in their Sunday opinion pages, criticizing Bennett’s push for more school choice and broadened state powers to intervene in schools with chronically-poor test scores.

But The Times‘ editorial says Ritz is “dealing with technicalities when the big picture is the focus of choosing Indiana’s next schools chief.”

Ritz and Bennett will debate on live radio next week in Fort Wayne, a week-and-a-half before voters head to the polls.



    Tony Bennett is nothing more than a handpicked puppet for
    Mitch Daniels. The Indiana Superintendent of Education prior to Mr. Bennett was
    republican Suellen Reed. Mrs. Reed was an intelligent woman who was not
    intimidated by other politicians, including Mitch Daniels. Prior to the 2008
    election Mrs. Reed was told by the governor that the republican party would not
    support her for reelection, in essence telling her that she would be replaced
    on the ticket. Mitch wanted a puppet that would do what he wanted. This is
    where Bennett enters the picture. Bennet and Daniels are longtime friends.
    Daniels needed someone who appeared to have good education credentials. Bennett
    fit the bill. Unfortunately no one actually researched Bennett’s career. As a
    teacher and administrator in Scott and Clark Counties he was mediocre. His role
    as the superintendent of public instruction has been driven by ultra
    conservative education theories that have not proven to be effective. He has
    frequently lied and twisted statistics in order to promote legislation that he
    favors. His goal is not to improve public education but allow it to be taken
    over by charter schools. Look at who has donated money to his campaign. Mr.
    Bennett has pledged his allegiance to corporations, not the school children of

  • First Last

    Here is a Public School Fight Song about Indiana’s (and America’s) current education situation written and performed by an Indiana teacher. There will be a national version coming soon. It’s not for profit, PLEASE PASS IT ON.

    If this link doesn’t work do a youtube search for “Public School Fight Song (Indiana Version)”.

  • Guest

    Here is a Public School Fight Song about Indiana’s (and America’s) current education situation. PLEASE SHARE.

    If this link doesn’t work do a youtube search for “Public School Fight Song (indiana Version)”.

  • Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer

    Here is what I am submitting to the NWI Times after reading their strange superficial endorsement of Tony Bennett. I wonder if it would be published, but it sure felt good to write it. I encourage everyone to add comments on that piece, too. Here’s my guest column:

    I was very disturbed to read your newspaper endorsing Tony
    Bennett for our state superintendent of instruction. In your piece you claim that the “nuances”
    of standardized testing are mere “technicalities” and that the “big picture is
    the focus of choosing Indiana’s next schools chief.”

    In fact, standardized testing today is the end-all, be-all
    of our schools and it behooves us to examine them carefully. Thanks to Mr. Bennett and his supporters,
    tests are the stick with which to beat children, educators, schools and, if our
    superintendent is voted in, whole districts.
    The ISTEP was never designed to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness. It is a tool that is to be used as one source
    of information to determine where children are in their learning process. If you as an editorial staff had done your
    homework, you would have found that the research shows that standardized tests
    more accurately tell you about the economic and educational backgrounds of
    children’s families than the true progress and learning of kids. This is not a “nuance” this is an issue of
    equal opportunity.

    We decided as a country that a free, public education was
    essential to our democracy. In Indiana,
    it is a child’s constitutional right. We
    created that system of education so that child of the coal miner could learn
    alongside the child of the factory owner about what it means to be
    citizen. We understood that together we
    stand, divided we fall. The fact that we
    have had such a difficulty delivering on the equal educational opportunity
    speaks to our inability to fully address the issues of poverty that surround
    kids in our inner cities. Innovations like
    the New Tech method should occur in public schools, too, but you can bet that there
    will be no space for that if test scores become the goal.

    Now we are buying the package that big corporations are
    selling us through the media and Tony Bennett: that our public schools are
    failing and we need businesses to fix them.
    Look at Bennett’s campaign coffers and you will see testing companies,
    private management of charters, special interests who are determined to
    privatize public education.

    The bottom line of a business is profit. The bottom line of schools is children and
    the teachers who inspire them and care for them. Creativity and passion, empathy and problem
    solving, innovation, none of those can be put on a standardized test. I am a mother with three children in the
    public schools and I know that they are so much more than test scores.

    The big picture is the corporate takeover of our
    democracy. Do your homework. Vote for
    Glenda Ritz and John Gregg.

    • data lady

      What a wonderful response and completely why I not only will not, but absolutely cannot vote for Tony Bennett!

      Ritz for Superintendent!!!

  • data lady

    Prior to Tony coming into office Indiana was already leading the nation in Standards. Schools were only just starting to pay attention to the sanctions required by PL221 and their impact was barely given a chance to take place when Tony started pushing for more stringent requirements. The A-F Growth model is seriously flawed and has major validity and reliability issues. Anyone who knows anything about statistics will tell you that calculating growth on fewer than 10 students is not appropriate, but is being done with the current model in small schools.

    Why this paper is choosing to endorse this man is a mystery and cause for concern about their ability to do proper research.

    Go Glenda Ritz and her grassroots campaign!!

  • Indiana Parent

    The current information among politicians in Indianapolis is this: If Mike Pence is elected governor and Tony Bennett is re-elected, they will outsource the RISE evaluations. The evaluations will not be done by school principals. The people hired to evaluate Indiana teachers may possibly be from out of state. Most likely they will not be from the local school corporation.

    The evaluators will not know the faculty member being evaluated or anything about the teacher. Mike Pence has stated that having the local principal do the evaluation of his teachers is not “getting a true read”.

    Is this how Indiana citizens wish to have thier local teachers evaluated?

  • Hoosier Parent

    May God help Florida.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »