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5:48 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Florida's Education Chief Resigns Over Grading Scandal

Florida's former Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett.
Florida Department of Education

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 5:01 pm

In education circles, Tony Bennett is widely known as a hard-charging Republican reformer associated with Jeb Bush's prescriptions for fixing public schools: charter schools, private school vouchers, tying teacher pay to student test scores and grading schools on a A through F scale.

Bennett resigned from his post as Florida's education chief this morning when a controversy over the last of those things — the school grades — caught up with him.

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Politics
12:32 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett Resigns

Tony Bennett

Update 2:24 p.m.: Florida is looking for a new education commissioner. Tony Bennett resigned today – effective immediately – after just six months on the job.

Allegations surfaced this week that Bennett changed the school grading system in Indiana to benefit a campaign contributor while he served as that state's elected superintendent.

Bennett said the allegations were unfounded, but he decided to step down because they had become a distraction.

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg says Bennett did the right thing.

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Politics
11:33 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Archive: A Conversation With Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett

NEW EDUCATION COMMISSIONER: Tony Bennett was Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana for one term. He lost his re-election bid in November 2012, and was appointed Florida's schools chief by Gov. Rick Scott.
Credit Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Editor's Note:   Shortly after Tony Bennett began as the state's Education Commissioner last December, he sat down with WLRN's former StateImpact reporter Sarah Gonzalez.  They talked about his time as head of Indiana's school system and what plans he had for Florida's.  

Tony Bennett drove from Indiana over the weekend to start his first day as schools chief in Florida on Monday.

Last month the State Board of Education hired Bennett, a Republican who served as Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction for one term.

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Politics
11:24 am
Thu August 1, 2013

The School At The Heart Of Bennett Controversy: The Philanthropy And Philosophy Of Christel DeHaan

Christel DeHaan
Credit Matt Detrich / Indianapolis Star

Editor's Note:  On Monday, the Associated Press published emails from 2012 showing former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett and his staff in Indiana discussing how to change that state's grading formula to boost the grade of an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor.

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Politics
11:12 am
Thu August 1, 2013

A Look At The Indiana Charter School At The Center Of Tony Bennett's Resignation

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 10:42 am

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is expected to resign today after the Associated Press published emails this week showing he and staff worked to change the state’s grading system in 2012, which boosted a charter school’s grade.

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Schools
3:34 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Florida's School Grading Formula Allows Districts To Check State's Work

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 2:31 pm

The big news out of Indiana yesterday was that in 2012 then-state superintendent Tony Bennett and staff discussed boosting the grade of a charter school.

Bennett now leads Florida schools and defended the change. The school, Christel House Academy, initially earned a C, but Bennett said Christel House performed as well as other A-rated charter schools.

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Politics
8:20 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Education Groups Come To Tony Bennett's Defense

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 3:15 pm

The Foundation for Florida’s Future and Michael Petrilli, writing at The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, are defending Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett’s decision to change Indiana’s school grading formula while leading Hoosier State schools in 2012.

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Crime
7:49 am
Wed July 31, 2013

In Florida, A Clash Over Exhuming Bodies At Reform School

Metal crosses mark graves at the cemetery of the former Arthur Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. Investigators in Florida using ground-penetrating radar and soil samples say there are nearly 100 unmarked graves on the grounds.
Michael Spooneybarger Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:32 pm

Researchers at the University of South Florida are fighting with the state over access to the grounds of a now-closed reform school.

For decades, the Dozier School for Boys was notorious for the harsh treatment boys received there. Now, a forensic anthropologist and her team want permission to exhume dozens of bodies they found in unmarked graves, but are meeting resistance from state officials.

White House Boys

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