Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Journal Gazette Publishes Bennett Emails Showing His 'Dislike' Of Ritz

State superintendent candidate Glenda Ritz and incumbent Tony Bennett.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Current state superintendent Glenda Ritz and her predecessor, Tony Bennett.

“Hey,” former state superintendent Tony Bennett wrote to his staff in one of the emails the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette published Thursday.

“Below is a link to Glenda [Ritz's] forum in Bloomington,” Bennett, a Republican, wrote. “I would ask that people watch this and scrub it for every inaccuracy and utterance of stupidly [sic] that comes put [sic] of her mouth.”

While the Journal Gazette‘s report did not speak to the controversy surrounding the ex-schools chief’s changing of Indiana’s A-F grading system, reporter Niki Kelly points out, “State rules prohibit employees from conducting campaign work on state equipment or state time.”

“Attempts to reach [Bennett] by phone and email for comments on this story were unsuccessful,” Kelly added.

In December, former Gov. Mitch Daniels accused public school teachers who opposed Bennett of using their school email accounts to advocate for Ritz.

“We got emails sent out on school time by people who were supposed to be teaching someone at the time, all about Tony Bennett,” Daniels told the Indy Star.

Most of the emails the Journal Gazette published portray Bennett’s personal dislike of Ritz — who ran as a Democrat — and her policies. (The paper posted the emails on their website here, here, here and here.)

That shouldn’t come as a huge shock — we wrote during the campaign the two diametrically opposed each other on basically every issue.

Comments

  • Jo Blacketor

    Is this really newsworthy? And Ritz & Co. “likes” Tony?

    • Karynb9

      The idea of state employees campaigning on state time using state resources (with nothing more than anecdotal evidence cited) was apparently a big enough deal that Governor Daniels brought it up to reporters in an attempt to make it “newsworthy,” so I think the fact that Bennett was using state time and state resources to campaign is newsworthy as well. I would be VERY interested in hearing Daniels’ reaction to this latest information.

      As far as Bennett not liking Ritz, this information can be newsworthy even if it isn’t a surprise to anyone. The fact that we have direct quotes from emails he sent makes it newsworthy as opposed to some, “Hey! Guess what? Hearing a rumor that Bennett doesn’t like Ritz!” story.

      Criticizing Ritz for being “political” sure is interesting. There is plenty of information here to suggest that Bennett certainly was the same.

      Ms. Blacketor, as a SBOE member at the time, do you believe that a fair assessment of a K-10 school for accountability purposes should ONLY include data from grades K-8? Should a school be rewarded for excellence in grade 10 or penalized for less-than-stellar grade 10 results, or should that information be completely left out of these grades that were developed for the purpose of giving parents and the community the “complete picture” of a school?

      • Jo Blacketor

        You neglect to share that there were 13 schools in this same position. Ironically, the “political churning” continues around just one school. Really, you guys need to go back and listen to the public discussions via the video streamed board meetings on these issues. I’m looking forward to stellar grades and recent evidence has proved the last four years has helped to improve them. Looking forward to the next four with hopes of improvement for our kids.

        • Tom Carver

          Shutup, scumbag! I really hope you get what idiots who back stab others deserve

        • Mark in Fort Wayne

          his explanation after the fact does NOT match what he says in the emails. So, what is the explanation behind him refusing to change grades of 2 IPS schools is a similar situation to Christel House and the other schools you mention just one year earlier? Could it be so they could be taken over by charters?

        • Karynb9

          The “political churning” continues around just one school because only ONE school’s name was mentioned time and time again in the emails as the reason to overhaul the entire grading system. The fixation on all-things-Christel-House started with Tony Bennett. The other 12 schools happened to ride the Christel House wave to improvement as well.

          You didn’t answer my question, Ms. Blacketor. Should the assessment of a K-10 school for accountability purposes include only date from grades K-8, or should 10th grade data, where it exists, be included as well?

          • Melly

            She’s only here to stick up for Bennett, not to answer serious, relevant questions.

        • Melly

          Did YOU not read the emails? Were they talking about 13 schools whose grades were a C? I think not.

    • Melly

      YES. It is newsworthy because Mitch Daniels irrationally whined that WE TEACHERS were using our WORK EQUIPMENT on WORK TIME to conduct political promotion and THIS is the guy he should have been talking to! NOT US! You should be ashamed to be sticking up for the guy but apparently you don’t know any better!
      Should the newspapers be looking into YOUR emails next, Ms. Blacketor??

      • Jo Blacketor

        Go for it. I don’t say anything in an email that I wouldn’t say publicly. Haven’t you figured that out yet?

        • Tom Carver

          You don’t say anything that isn’t a lie or a half truth. We’ve ALL figured that out!

        • Melly

          Yes, and you don’t know when you stick your foot in your mouth publicly. This is a heads-up!

        • Diana Reed

          Yet, you’ll post on FB group pages and then delete your comment. Hmmmm…..

      • gorillaknifefight

        I’m sure Tony wrote those during his prep period.

        It’s also impossible for anyone to access their email from home.

    • kystokes

      Hi Jo, as I wrote to you on Facebook, I do think it’s a fair question. I wrestled with whether we should address this on StateImpact at all. But I posted this because it’s a use of state emails to issue a directive of state staff related to campaign matters. It’s newsworthy enough for a 250-word link-out post for that reason. The other emails don’t rise to that level of comment on Ritz/campaign matters, so we didn’t post them.

      • agent8699

        As you can see by the numerous comments on this page, not only is it newsworthy, but your readers appreciate it. I also want to thank you for truthful journalism. As a parent, watching my child’s right to a “whole child” education be washed away, upsets me beyond words. This reform nonsense (we have all connected the dots to corporate profiteering) is a pathway to destruction. We are seeing it unfold before our eyes. No amount of test manipulation can hide the truth. Each child is an individual with individual needs. Parents are waking up to the truth. Children must not be deemed failures before they even begin in life. I could go on, and on…

        • Jo Blacketor

          Many replies on this site are without transparency – no face icon/photos and/or names associatied with the address. Doesn’t reflect a pretty picture of the numerous comments when you aren’t open enough to reveal yourself.

          • Tom Carver

            You’re open enough and ignorant enough to spit lies. You’re a pathetic shill for ALEC and repukes who love to take money at the expense of kids. That open enough for you, fool!

          • Melly

            Jo’s not on the state board anymore, so all she can do now is float around to these comment boards and stick up for people who don’t deserve it, while promoting some “non-profit.”.

          • rbeebe0519

            wow, you really must enjoy grasping at straws. that’s all you got? “you don’t have a picture with your profile, so we can discount you….”

          • Melly

            So, because there’s a name and a photo on your account, that proves who you are? How do we know you’re not Mrs. Bennett? lol

      • Jo Blacketor

        Use of state email accounts during campaign matters is a HUGE story on BOTH sides. I have over 10,000 emails that I have saved that can be traced back to school buildings for campaign purposes. Shall we investigate those, too?

        • gorillaknifefight

          I have a list of two hundred Communists in the Indiana state legislature right here in my hand, too.

        • Melly

          Go for it. You want to open up Pandora’s box. Better be careful what you ask for.

          • Jo Blacketor

            Ditto.

          • Melly

            I haven’t used my work email on work time for anything but work, so I have nothing to fear. We teachers are too busy at work to push political agendas. We’re out there doing the real job creating.

        • Tom Carver

          Sure, lets see..although you’ll only lie and not share ones from idiots like you and the Republican party. Nothing you say is ever true. Glad we all know youre pathetic

        • Karynb9

          Yes, but it was Bennett’s side, with Daniels as the spokesperson for the effort, who made the first accusation of impropriety. Now we find out that it was the pot calling the kettle black. I guess people can no longer use that as an excuse for why Bennett lost the election since he and his supporters were engaging in the same.

          • rbeebe0519

            which is the point exactly!

    • Jennifer Livesay

      As a parent of children in public schools in Indiana, I find it newsworthy that Bennett was breaking the rules in the same way he accused teachers of doing during the campaign. (By the way, I never heard anything pro-Ritz from any of my kids’ teachers. I arrived at my support for Glenda Ritz by looking around at the mess Bennett was making of things.) And although he kept repeating this accusation, Bennett was apparently never able to find a scrap of evidence for it, or we certainly would have heard about it.

      It’s interesting to hear a former member of the state board refer to the superintendent (who was elected with broad bipartisan support) as “destructive and political” when the way it looks to me is that her good ideas, that grow out of many years of direct experience in public schools, are being blocked at every point by destructive political games by the state board and the state legislature. Ms. Blacketor, I am an Indiana parent who does not like the brand of “choice” you peddle.

      • Jo Blacketor

        Jennifer, as a grandparent and former local school board (who was endorsed by the union) I too, support quality public school choices. I support all quality choices since one method alone does not reach all kids. That’s what I peddle.

        • Tom Carver

          You peddle lies, backdoor politics, and privatization to help corporations make money while screwing over kids. Why not say those truths, you POS!

        • Melly

          That’s what Tony said too, but he expressed dislike for FWCS in his own emails. He was supposed to represent ALL schools, not just the ones that suited his agenda. I believed him about as much as i believe you.

        • Cathy Bullington

          Peddle…seems appropriate in this case.

        • Mark in Fort Wayne

          But who is doing the “choosing” you refer to? The choosing that you support is done by the schools and NOT the parents. The parents have to jump through several hoops depending on the “choice”; but ultimately, under the system you support, the charter and voucher schools choose who gets in and who does not, as well as who gets to stay. Public schools do not get to pick and choose, and they do not get to dismiss students for lack of performance.

        • Jennifer Livesay

          Ms. Blacketor, if this is truly what you believe you support, then I think you should do some serious thinking about whether your actions are in tune with your objectives.

          Vouchers, charters, high-stakes testing, giving schools the grade of “F” when they are doing good work in at-risk communities–none of these things are helping to make sure that families have access to a range of quality choices. I, too, support making sure that families have that range of choices. I’ve donated to the scholarship fund of a private school that doesn’t accept vouchers, a school that–even without vouchers–is committed to making sure no child is turned away because the family has limited means. This is how it should work: private donations for private schools, public tax dollars for public schools.

          It was a real kick in the teeth to watch Pence sign HB1003 at a private school that my children and most of the people I know would not be accepted into because of their religion, and to know that our tax dollars will be going to this and other schools that can turn down students of the “wrong” religion or family background, while meanwhile many public schools across our state can no longer afford to provide art, music, foreign language, PE, or fully equip their science labs, and instruction becomes less about inspiring children to think and grow and care about their world, and more about passing the almighty ISTEP, because passing the almighty ISTEP is the only way a school can fend off a hostile takeover.

          The system you helped develop is not helping Indiana students. It is doing them harm. If you are truly a person of good will, please think about what it is you are doing.

    • Guest Commenter

      Well perhaps when she is done cleaning up Tony’s mess she’ll get around to what you want.

    • agent8699

      What does Glenda Ritz have to show? Let’s see…. She is a beloved lifelong educator. She is a national board certified teacher. She was was outspent 10 to one by her opponent, and yet…1.3 million voters saw it necessary for Bennett to get the boot. She walked into Bennett’s mess…the A-F school grading scandal, the I-STEP computer fiasco, and the common core conundrum. Yet, she has gracefully addressed each and every issue. The majority of Hoosiers “get it.” I’m trying to understand your use of the word destructive as it is applies to Glenda Ritz. Is it because she is a lifetime educator and actually UNDERSTANDS education? Is it because she is extremely intelligent and knows her facts and talking points? Is it because she doesn’t send mean and unprofessional emails like her predecessor did? You know, the same guy who campaigned on state time with state computers and cheated to change a beloved charter school grade…can someone say HYPOCRITE? Is it because Ms. Ritz is personable and finds common ground with her co workers? It’s tough to see your buddy replaced by a truly qualified candidate… I know. Especially when she is brilliant, charismatic, and beloved by schools, parents, teachers, and citizens… It’s tough. I know. We feel your pain, because we were actually involved in public schools while you and your friends sat on your thrones making ill advised decisions that hurt our schools and our children. I have five children who were and still are in the public school system. I happen to love and support public schools 100%. We know what the previous board and administration did to our schools. I am a public school parent and I get it. Don’t even try to defend this. The gig is up.

      • Melly

        YES!

        • jacki beaver

          yes thank you…

    • chris m

      Ritz is too busy cleaning up after Bennet and the state board won’t work with her.

    • Tom Carver

      Jo ‘lying on her back’ Blacketor, when you like to say half truths, maybe you should give the full truth. Ritz hasn’t accomplished much..because Pence and idiots like you have blocked anything she wants to do?! Are you such a complete lying scumbag that you can say no full truths? You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being! Putin lies less than you. You have the gall to say crap when you may as well have been blowing tony bennet with your political ass kissing! Do you miss his taint, that’s why you have to whine about Ritz? how about shutting the hell up and actually doing something to help kid other than teaching them that lying and trying to sabotage others is a Republican trait. Bitch!

    • gorillaknifefight

      One piece of evidence justifying “destructive” or “political.” Just one. Go for it.

    • kystokes

      Commenters, please keep the discussion issue-focused. I’ve deleted a comment in this thread that violates our comments policy, http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/tag/mailbag/ which prohibits “ad-hominem” attacks in our comments.

    • Guest

      If Glenda Ritz is “destructive”, then she is destructive of the efforts that you and many like you have supported toward privatizing public education

    • Ann LaCosse

      SHE’s political? At least she’s not pushing a personal agenda to expand charter schools at all costs, Jo. And she’s not doing anything unethical. Tony’s vindictive and whiny. He got caught, he needs to quietly fade into some field other than education. Those e-mails will get ya’ Tony, enough!!

    • rbeebe0519

      yes Jo it’s newsworthy because the tie to “reporter Niki Kelly points out, “State rules prohibit employees from conducting campaign work on state equipment or state time.” not only is it petty and ridiculous, it illustrates a disregard for and breaking of state statutes. At the same time, contrast the load of crap Daniels accused Ritz of…. The paper trail of inappropriate, unethical and yes potentially illegal activities widens.

  • Doug Martin

    Kyle: Thanks for writing this. Are you and State Impact going to file some FOIA requests, too? I’ve filed some, the AP has more, the Journal Gazette has some, and the ones from Jeb Bush’s cronies and Bennett will be out any day now from D.C’s In the Public Interest.

  • jacki beaver

    I am a parent of children that go to public school, my child use to love school not anymore he hates it he comes home and says it is test after test, they have only been in school 8 days and all they have done was test, these kids are not even given a chance to learn one subject, they are trying to make our kids grow up so fast, I really wish they would come down to off their high horse and come and sit in a class and watch what is going on and stop making our kids learn at the same pace because that is not going to happen, stop wasting our tax payers money, the common core is costing way to much money, we really need to stop all of this, stop pushing for something that is costing and hurting our kids….

    • agent8699

      Amen, Jacki!

    • Jo Blacketor

      The number of tests – short of ISTEP and iRead3 are local decisions. Get involved with your local board to make that change.

      • MA in assessment design

        But ww need to have data data and more data for evaluations. We cannot just give kids ISTEP and not prepare for it. Just like you do not give just a chapter test but need to give quizzes along the way..so goes ISTEP preparation. Many many tests. On top of subject quizzes and tests. We live in a great district. ..A…but the education my 3rd grader is getting is VASTLY different than my 12th grader with same teachers. Same personalities same learning styles. My 12th grader loved going to school. My now 4th grader HATES it. No time for creativity. No time in 3rd grade for science and social studies. And while he is a good reader the iREAD freaked him out and he stressed over it so much he was bawling and he does not cry. You can defend all you want Jo but you all ruined education.

        • jacki beaver

          you are so right MA they did ruin it, they are hurting our kids and they don’t even care.

      • jacki beaver

        No you help change the law for what to hurt our teacher’s our schools most important our kids doing this common core it cost way to much, and another thing grading our teacher’s and school’s the way you guys are doing is wrong just down right wrong, teaching starts at home it is not the teacher’s or schools fault my child does not study or do their homework it is my fault, it is mine as the parent responsibility to check their grades and to keep in touch with the teacher, and to be there for my child to help them, my point is we are going to have a higher drop out rate if you guys keep messing with it leave it alone…I want you to really sit and think about what you guys are doing and how you guys was taught in school we need to get back to the basic sorry, like my oldest daughter pointed out to me she said am I going to use that when I grow up no so why am I having to take it, she has a 4.2 GPA score she is 15 in her class and the class size is 400 plus, so you tell me she made a good point, my 6th grader hates school now he use to love school he has only missed 2 days since he start school at 5 years old he comes home every day saying well we took another test this is daily when you talk to the board they blame all of you guys, saying well they are making us do this we have teacher’s leaving the school’s because of the way you guys want to run our schools, I think you guys need to leave our schools alone, none of our kids are going to learn at the same like you guys are trying to make them so stop….

  • http://icebrc.blogspot.com/ A View Through My Eyes

    Will we ever learn our lesson as voters when it comes to overzealous politicians. Even the ancient Greeks understood the dangers of professional politicians.

  • Jo Blacketor

    Done with this thread. Too many personal attacks and questions that I don’t feel obligated to answer. Ya’ll talk amongst yourselves.

    • Melly

      Running away is always easier than facing real questions and answering them.

      • Jo Blacketor

        Not when fallen on deaf ears…wasting good time & energy when there are more important things to be done.

        • gorillaknifefight

          Still waiting for you to justify “political” or “destructive.” But don’t feel obligated to back up the things you say or anything like that.

    • Karynb9

      I actually applaud you, Ms. Blacketor, for engaging in debates like this over social media. You are the only current or recently-former (if that makes sense) member of the Board of Education that has, to my knowledge, come forward to do just that. While you certainly don’t have an obligation to answer questions about the policies you voted into place as a recent member of the Board of Education through social media, I do believe that you and the other members of the BOE are accountable to the residents of the state of Indiana that you represented while serving on the Board of Ed when it comes to how policies like A-F were implemented under your watch. I do not believe a question about whether or not you support the practice of throwing out grade 10 test scores for accountability purposes when evaluating schools with grades K-10 is a personal attack or a question that you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer, and I would still be very interested in your answer.

    • Mark in Fort Wayne

      Funny, that is the same comment you make on pretty much every education topic you choose to post a comment to. Personal attacks? I have not seen any. I have seen people critical of you in your role on the SBOE. You also open yourself up for challenges when you post the misinformation that you do. Maybe if you actually did some listening yourself???? Don’t feel obligated???? Or is it that you do NOT have answers to the real questions? The problem is that many of these questions were questions/concerns being raised by educators from day 1 of the “reform” movement that the State was undertaking. There was ZERO input from teachers in the schools that have been impacted the most. Instead, what we got in return is a LOT of what we see from you here; lecturing as if we somehow knew nothing and that you, other board members, Bennett, and Daniels knew better, and refused to listen to anyone.

  • Jo Blacketor

    All – since this issue is pending legal review and inspection. I’ll hold out answering anymore questions until this is settled. Just in case my documentation or testimony is needed!

    • heath johnson

      Ms. Blacketor…. shouldn’t the fierce opposition from the people who have spent their lives educating children tell you something? Sure… you served on the school board, “true evidence” that you really care about children. In my experience, schools boards are infected with people who have a political agenda. They’re hellbent on lowering property taxes…. blocking a building project… or removing a staff member. I’ve seen it many many times.

      Have you bothered to research where many of the education reform bills (laws) come from? How does ALEC “peddling” corporate-crafted legislation on the people of Indiana reflect the ideals of local control? How does the love affair between our Republican lawmakers and ALEC reflect a representative democracy? If you don’t know who ALEC is…. you should.

      You don’t like Superintendent Ritz because she’s “destructive, political and in six months has nothing to show as it relates to gains for our kids.” What support does Glenda Ritz have on the ISBOE or in the legislature or in the office of the Governor? How is she more political than YOU….David Shane…. or Tony Bennett?

      My students have been hurt by the reforms. They’ve lost art, music, and industrial technology…… as funding was slashed by those you so fervently defend. Now, my kids are tested to death in the spirit of this corporate-crafted accountability monster….. “peddled” by the church you call “education reform” and the GOP.

      Speaking of reform: Ever consider that school choice vouchers to religious schools are fostering sectarianism? Think about it. It pushes more kids down the paths of a narrowly focused indoctrination. This idea doesn’t bother the GOP. They’re typically fundamentalists and they want more church for our kids. Keep in mind the government is now in the business of approving which religious schools receive government funding. That doesn’t bother you? Do you realize that some of these schools teach, as fact, ideas which are completely inconsistent with the discoveries made in all of the major disciplines of science?

      Ms. Blacketor…. with all due respect…. I understand that neither I, or any of my colleagues in education, are ever going to convince you …that you (and your reformist friends) have hurt our children….. but the fact remains that you have. I see it every day.

      It really has nothing to do with kids. It’s about corporate profit. It’s about sectarianism. It’s about squelching “liberalism”. It’s about a political agenda.

      Please take some time to peer into that deep, dark, truthful mirror…..as you “peddle” …… “it’s all about the kids.”

  • Jami Beckham

    I too am a proud parent of a child who attends public school, but as a Tuition Transfer Student. We love our school, our Principal and teachers “ROCK”, and I am so very thankful for having a choice. I can’t imagine where my child would be, had we not had the option of transferring her out of our crowed and struggling school district. I am thankful for having a choice because we have been able to remain in our home, in a neighborhood that we love, where we continue to pay local taxes and support our local business community. Without school choice, we would have been forced to move away from the people we value and the home we built in search of safer, better and less congested schools. I must say, I am dismayed by the vulgar language and hostility being expressed by both parents and educators these days. It makes the “adults in the room” look petty, childish and limited. We diminish ourselves and our credibility every time we debase one another (whether in public, online and/or in the media). As a public school parent and choice advocate, I look forward to the day when we can put political agendas behind us and focus on putting students and Hoosier families first again. Until that time, I encourage all of my passionate friends (on both sides of this issue) to stay true to your beliefs, keep asking the tough questions but please, lets be respectful of eachother – our children are listening.

    By the way, and just in case anyone is wondering– I am also a proud democrat and Obama/Biden supporter!

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 »

Economy
Education