Behind Tony Bennett’s Election Campaign, A Plan to Take Control of Entire Communities

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett believes in holding schools accountable. But what about himself? He says he’ll give his first term in office a “B.”
Bennett appears to be a healthy man with the support of a loving family.  He is well-connected politically and his campaign is financed by some of America’s wealthiest. He lives in a fairly affluent northeast suburb of Indianapolis.  Ethnically, he belongs to the majority.
Bennett has all the advantages exhibited by schools that should do well on his A-F grading scale.
Would Bennett still be able to grade his department a “B” if he lost these advantages?  Could he still earn that mark without political or wealthy connections? If he had to move every month or two?  Couldn’t sleep at night because he was scared or hungry?
If Bennett’s office deserves a “B”, what grades, based on data alone, will he impose on neighborhood schools lacking the resources and advantages his office has had?  Surrounded by the frailest, most volatile communities which have already been failed by state and national policies, what grades will the neediest neighborhood schools receive?
Bennett’s grades for every school were to be released August 30th of this election year, but have been delayed and embargoed now until October 31st.  Estimates are Bennett will give “D’s” and “F’s” to 20% or more of public schools.
In a larger sense, Bennett will not be just failing schools: He will be failing communities.  And Bennett is merely a puppet on strings.  His campaign donors; Walton, Kern, DeVos, Broad, Bloomberg… are failing – and taking over – poor communities.  Bennett’s A-F system is the design of the ultra rich to take control of entire communities through “education reform.”
The ultra-rich have figured out in a global economy that the poor are no longer needed to help them get richer by traditional (labor) means.  The new method of profiting from these communities is to divert public tax dollars to for-profit institutions.
The poor, minority communities are always the “beachheads.”  Here, the ultra-rich meet with the least resistance from those who lack resources. As Jersey Jazzman illustrates with graphic evidence:

...if you are a school with a large poor or minority student population, the state wants to control you.   If however, your district is primarily white and non-poor, the state says (for now) you can govern yourself.  (my addition)

A struggling middle class turns a blind eye.  They have been led to believe these communities are the drain of their personal resources.  It is a nifty diversion from the truth: the ultra-rich are getting even richer.  The extreme right has abandoned any thought of unity, common good, or justice for all and replaced it with one popular, but polarizing, ideology: “What’s in this for me?
Moreover, the ultra-rich, via Tony Bennett, will work to eliminate the cultures and the people of these poorer communities altogether.  This from Superintendent John Kuhn of Texas:

Every school is a microcosm of the community it serves, that is, every school that serves any and all students in the neighborhood.  … (Charter schools) embrace select children from the neighborhood while flatly rejecting the broad sweep of the neighborhood’s culture, preferring to substitute their own pre-manufactured culture-like products.

As Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California wrote:

The idea of war among nations is obsolete.  It’s the (ultra-rich) versus the rest of us.  It’s not democracy vs. communism, Islam vs. Christianity, or earth vs. aliens.  It’s the ultra-rich against the rest of us.   They didn’t get to be the ultra-rich by being compassionate. 

Krashen concludes charter school reform will be a source of profit for the rich while weakening and eventual elimination of the cultures of many communities.
I have been dubbed an unabashed critic of Tony Bennett.  Tony Bennett was a lackluster superintendent from southern Indiana. He received his doctorate from Spalding where his thesis failed to prove teachers’ unions hinder school progress.  He was hand-groomed by Mitch Daniels and the elite right wing to lead education reform efforts in Indiana. During the forum or debate this year, I had the sense he could only parrot back responses spoon fed by his education reform donors.
I am not so much an unabashed critic of Tony Bennett as I would consider myself working with a sense of urgency to preserve public education in Indiana.  Public Education remains a pillar of democracy, an institution which can serve as “the great equalizer.”  If we can keep it.
Ironically, education reformers have warned the public that Bennett’s opponent, Glenda Ritz, wants to maintain the status quo.  These reformers are hopeful that Hoosiers cannot remember far enough into the past to remember the earliest days of poor farms, orphanages and workhouses.
For the sake of democracy, our economy, and preserving our culture, we must work to elect Glenda Ritz next superintendent of public instruction.  Ritz has called for the restoration of common sense in our school systems.  Support Ritz by participating in her grassroots campaign.  We must have a new direction.
The November 6th election is only days away and will have huge consequences for public education in Indiana.  I urge you to support Glenda Ritz in any way you can by talking with family, neighbors, and friends.  Bennett’s expensive TV commercials are everywhere.  Ritz needs your involvement and your support at the grassroots level.  Thank you.

1 Comment

  1. I have begun to wonder why there is not more of an outrage by civil rights leaders. Where are their voices in this take over of our public schools? How is it that the basic civil right of local school representation around our nation is being allowed to be taken over by big money political control? Is it that there are no longer voices in power to speak for our families and children in poverty? No minority leaders to voice this outrage? The silence is deafening. Dr. King would be appalled. If not for these blogs, I would think civil rights issues do not exist. I hope civil rights leaders will soon leave their comfy seats and speak up for our children. Will it be too late?


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