Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, released the following statement concerning the application of the state’s school evaluation formula by former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett:
“Once again, public dissatisfaction with the closed-door policies and the rigging of the system by the past administration have resulted in the resignation of a public official hundreds of miles away. Clearly, Hoosiers do not find these policies acceptable.
“The need for transparency has never been more apparent. The state’s credibility as an impartial and objective administrator has been badly damaged. Hoosier parents, teachers and students are rightly questioning the report cards their schools received.
“What’s clear is some high-level officials appeared more interested in picking winners than objectively evaluating school performance. We’ve seen now that these actions have had real consequences.
“Regrettably, the culture of closed-door decision making and the appearance of the corruption of the A-F grading system calls all other initiatives and agreements made by the previous administration into question.
“To restore credibility, the answer is sunshine. Hoosiers expect accountability, they expect transparent decisions and policy shaped by sound reasoning, not political considerations.
“I fully support the efforts already undertaken by Superintendent Ritz to craft a new evaluation process that balances student performance and growth. I also stand with my colleagues calling for additional oversight of the school evaluation process, but we must not stop there.
“To regain Hoosiers’ trust, a full legislative review of any agreement entered into or program initiated by the previous administration is needed to ensure any actions taken were above reproach. Additionally, the legislature must tighten oversight of contracts between the state and privately-operated turnaround academies, set clear benchmarks and hold operators to account.
“The actions of the previous administration have seriously shaken teachers and parents’ faith in the state. We must now act to rebuild that trust and ensure every Hoosier child has an opportunity at a high-quality education. The price of inaction is too high.”
Sen. Lanane represents Indiana Senate District 25 that includes the portions of Madison and Delaware counties, including the city of Muncie and the southeastern portion of the city of Anderson. He can be reached at 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S25 .