Indiana Chief Outlines Reforms

Tony Bennett is Indiana superintendent of public education.  Bennet chairs Chiefs for Change and was recently recognized by Fordham as a leading reformer. Here’s a few excerpts from his blog today.
On innovation:

At a structural level, the freedoms we have pursued reflect my belief in local school corporations as centers of innovation. To level the playing field, every school — big or small, rural or urban, public or private — must have the freedom and flexibility to innovate on behalf of students.

On accountability and autonomy:

In five years, the leanest state department of education in the nation will focus on holding schools accountable for student performance by setting and keeping the bar high.
Free of historical roadblocks that have constrained innovation, our school leaders will embrace the flexibility that enables them to meet students’ needs. An Indiana Department of Education specializing in the scaling of best practices will provide school leaders the support they need while subsequently fostering a spirit of collaboration among all schools. Indiana will be a haven for innovation at the local level.
High accountability will go hand in hand with greater flexibility.
Indiana’s growth model, coupled with future innovations in measuring student performance, will lay a foundation for establishing an accountability system that considers where every student starts, not just where they stop.
A fair and transparent accountability system that gives everyone the opportunity to succeed will encourage our lowest performing schools to double their efforts to better serve students.

On teaching:

The teaching profession will be transformed and provide new opportunities for our best teachers and principals. Great teaching will be celebrated and exceptional practices shared across the state.  I have been inspired by the talent and dedication among Indiana’s educators. I am proud we are creating a system that will recognize and reward their efforts.

On choice:

Friendly competition and school choice will offer new chances for students to succeed.  We are seeing promising returns in this arena — from local school corporations advertising in adjacent communities to local school leaders re-evaluating their program offerings. Moving forward, competition will be celebrated by all stakeholders. School corporations will seek to out-perform their neighbors, and schools will work vigorously to rise above their peers. A new sense of urgency will develop, and the ultimate beneficiaries will be the students.
Parents will have access to a wide-range of quality educational options and will be empowered to select a school that best meets the learning needs of their children.  And all students, regardless of their race or how much money is in the family bank account, will have the opportunity to achieve excellence. Ensuring every child has this opportunity is the civil rights issue of our generation.

For more, read the entire blog in

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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