Tony Bennett officially becomes Indiana’s new superintendent of public instruction today. Three days earlier, he offered Indiana Chamber members participating in the First Friday Conference Call a preview of things to come. And he didn’t mince any words.
A few of the highlights (with a more extensive report to be included in the March-April BizVoice magazine’s focus on education and workforce development):
- The old question of "how do we get more money for education?" needs to be changed to "how do we get more education for our money?" Bennett says the Department of Education that he will oversee can operate with 10% less funding
- Consolidation of smaller school districts is not just a financial argument, but primarily a way to increase learning opportunities for students
- Although just elected in November, Bennett strongly believes the superintendent position should be appointed. He hints at how long he might serve in that role (see the BizVoice article in March)
- He terms it a great injustice to lower expectations based on an individual student’s background. "The excuses stop at the schoolhouse door," Bennett claims
As a spectator for this First Friday call (Chamber education expert Derek Redelman served as host), I can confidently offer the following: Bennett will hit the ground running and all involved in the education community better be prepared to keep pace.