"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Company he Keeps

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, has been telling teachers what they're doing wrong since he was elected. He's knee deep in the "Schools are failing and it's because of bad teachers and their unions" reform movement and is pushing for charters, teacher pay based on test scores, union-busting, and experience doesn't matter pay schemes for Indiana public schools.

Now he has a "situation" on his hands which throws some light on what happens when the business community moves into public education. Profit and money become the bottom line...not students and learning.

Karen Francisco wrote in Fort Wayne's Journal Gazette on Sunday, February 6,
One year ago, the Indiana Department of Education hyped 2010 as the “Year for Science Education Reform” and kicked off with a science summit featuring State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, Eli Lilly officials and “national experts.”

Among those experts was Michael Klentschy, Ph.D., a researcher and retired superintendent of schools in California’s El Centro Elementary School District. Panelist information for the summit touted his research in the “longitudinal effects of inquiry-based science education on language minority populations and with the science-literacy connection in North Carolina, Idaho, New Mexico and California.”

It also noted that he served as principal or co-principal investigator on several National Science Foundation-funded elementary science initiatives.

Over the next few months, references to Klentschy appeared on numerous education department notices, including an October reminder in Bennett’s weekly mailing to school superintendents that Klentschy would speak at a $140 teacher workshop at the Wabash Valley Education Service Center. “This is a chance to hear and ask questions about notebooking, inquiry, and best practices utilizing science kits,” Bennett’s e-mail said.

Klentschy was named a budget partner in the $18.4 million proposal for the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition. Purdue University was lead partner in the request for an Indiana Science Initiative program to “validate a statewide K-8 science education reform based upon scaffolded guided inquiry.” Other partners included the Indiana DOE, Ball State University and several school districts.

A link to a video featuring Klentschy boasting of the results of his “inquiry-based science curriculum” work still can be found on the website for NISTEM, the Northeast Indiana Education Resource Center.

But Klentschy’s name appears on another interesting document: a federal indictment from a 2009 grand jury inquiry alleging that he and two colleagues stole $5.4 million in grant money from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. A separate indictment naming Klentschy alone alleges that he falsified standardized testing results supporting his own “special” kit based on “scaffold guided inquiry” in teaching elementary school science.
This reminds me of the Reading First scandal of a few years back where the Federal program was only accepting certain programs and assessments from states...which "just happened" to be in the economic interest of some of the Reading First developers.

Francisco went on...
Since he took office in 2009, the superintendent has made unrelenting demands on Indiana schools to adopt his approach or face consequences.

He fired most of the experienced educators in his department and assembled a young team of officials who spout the current buzzwords in school improvement. The “we’ll work with you” style of his predecessor has been replaced by “trust us – we know best.”
To me this looks like Tony Bennett is just another anti-public education politician who wants to convince the public that teachers don't know anything about education, that training doesn't matter, and that the business community knows best. It looks like he's in it for the money and we all know there's a bundle of money in school budgets. People like him -- the Duncans, Gates, Broads, Waltons, Obamas and other "reformers" -- want their cut of the education loot and they're willing to throw public education under the bus to get it.

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