Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Jeb Bush On Tony Bennett's Defeat: 'It's Not My Education Agenda'

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana // Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Outgoing State Superintendent Tony Bennett, left, drew inspiration for his changes to Indiana classrooms from the education policies of Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

We’ve written before about the influence of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on outgoing State Superintendent Tony Bennett. With earlier Florida initiatives driving so many of Indiana’s policy changes, it’s hard not to draw comparisons now that Bennett’s been voted out.

But Bush dismissed the notion that Bennett’s failed bid for reelection was a setback for his particular brand of education overhaul.

“It’s not my education agenda,” Bush told StateImpact Florida‘s Sarah Gonzalez. “It’s the education agenda of the Indiana governor, the Indiana state school officer, the Indiana legislature, the Indiana business community, that Tony Bennett didn’t get elected.”

While many state have borrowed from Bush’s education agenda, few have embraced it as fully as Indiana. Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz’s supporters say these policies — A-F grading for schoolsteacher evaluationsperformance based payexpansive voucher programs and expanded charter school options — are why Bennett lost earlier this month.

But like Bush, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Gov.-elect Mike Pence and other Republican lawmakers were also quick to reject Ritz’s argument that her victory was a “referendum” on Indiana’s education overhaul.

Not a word of one of those laws is going to be changed unless it’s extended further in the direction of reform,” Daniels said the day after the election. “Every other factor that matters is aligned in this state in the direction of progress and change and reform of teacher accountability, of more choices for families, of more ability for school leadership to lead.”

Pence has said he’ll work with Ritz to find common ground, but he also sees the legislature’s Republican super-majority as an affirmation of Indiana’s education policy overhaul.

If you’re interested in what’s next for Indiana and other states pursuing many of the same initiatives, Bush’s interview with our colleagues in Florida is worth a listen. Of particular interest is Bush’s unwavering support for the Common Core academic standards, which 45 states and the District of Columbia are planning to adopt.

Some say the support of conservatives who oppose the new standards helped Ritz win the election.

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