Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Bennett Says Legislature Should Look At District Takeover Provision Next Session

    Carolyn Harless/WFIU

    State superintendent Tony Bennett (center) answers a question from the audience about the state's intervention in George Washington Community High School in Indianapolis with state school turnaround director Jim Larson (left) looking on.

    From Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith.

    Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett says he wants to see the General Assembly address state intervention on a broader, district-wide level — and he wants that discussion to take place as soon as possible.

    “It’s not in the state’s best interest to operate schools,” he says. “Schools are best operated locally. But the state cannot — and as long as I’m the superintendent, will not — tolerate poor performance of schools and use local control as an excuse.”

    Bennett says the standard for schools must be quality local control. If a number of schools in a single district fail, Bennett says the state’s takeover model may be expandable.

    “I think that is a discussion I hope the General Assembly has in 2013 is how we address systemic failure of districts,” he says.

    Bennett says his department is already grading districts the way individual schools are assigned letter grades. House Education committee chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, says state takeover of entire school districts is an avenue worth exploring.

    “The problem isn’t necessarily the schools we’re taking over,” Behning says. “What happens is, they get to those schools and they fail because they haven’t gotten the proper training beforehand.”

    Behning says changing rules on state intervention could take a long time but wants to see the process begin next session.


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