Tony Bennett (superintendent)

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Tony Bennett
Education Commissioner of Florida
In office
December 12, 2012 – August 1, 2013
Governor Rick Scott
Preceded by Gerard Robinson
Succeeded by Pam Stewart
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction
In office
January 19, 2009 – January 23, 2013
Governor Mitch Daniels
Preceded by Suellen Reed
Succeeded by Glenda Ritz
Personal details
Born Clark County, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Tina
Alma mater Indiana University. Southeast (BS, MS)
Spalding University (DEd)

Tony Bennett is the former Florida Commissioner of Education and the former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Education and career[edit]

Bennett received his Doctor of Education and Indiana Superintendent's License from Spalding University in 2005; his Certification in Secondary Administration and Supervision from Indiana University Southeast in 1994; his Master of Science in Secondary Education from Indiana University Southeast in 1988; and his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Indiana University Southeast in 1984. Bennett served as a teacher, coach and administrator.

In 2010, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce named him Government Leader of the Year and, in 2011, The Fordham Institute named him Education Reform Idol.

State superintendent[edit]

Bennett was narrowly elected Indiana State Superintendent in 2008, succeeding retiring four-term incumbent Suellen Reed. He was defeated for re-election in an upset in his bid for a second term. He made education reform a key platform of his tenure.

During Bennett's term, student achievement improved on several key academic indicators. Scores on the state's ISTEP+ exam, Advanced Placement pass percentages and graduate rates reached new highs.[1]

Some criticized Bennett and his wife in 2011 because of her involvement with a charter school oversight program at Marian University. The state awarded a contract to Marian to establish a "Turnaround Leadership Academy" to train transformational school leaders. Officials noted the contract was awarded through a competitive request for proposals process.[2][3]

Despite receiving nearly hundred thousand dollars[4] in out-of-state campaign money,[5] Bennett ended up losing the 2012 superintendent race to Glenda Ritz.[6]

Some controversy arose after the election because the current president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels, claimed that teachers used illegal tactics to defeat Bennett.[7]

Florida education commissioner[edit]

On December 12, 2012, the Florida Board of Education unanimously selected Bennett as the state's new education commissioner.[8] On August 1, 2013, Bennett announced his resignation due to the scandal surrounding Christel House Academy, citing if he stayed on as commissioner it would "be a distraction to the children of Florida."[9]


In July 2013, the Associated Press reported that Bennett, as Indiana superintendent of schools, changed the "A–F" school grading system, so a particular charter school, Christel House Academy, would receive a top A rating. Emails linked in several news outlets showed how Bennett was focused on one school. Bennett's email quoting him as saying, "We have NO chance of advancing accountability during the session with this problem in front of us." Subsequent emails showed his staff working to get the charter school up to an A rating.[10]

However, in an article published in the Tampa Bay Times on July 29, 2013, it stated that "Christel House was an unusual fit for the state's new grading model, Bennett said. The charter enrolled students in kindergarten through the 10th grade. As a result, Christel House missed out on points other high schools earned, Bennett said. "They didn't have all the factors," Bennett said. "So we decided to separate the grade levels out. We evaluated them based on the elementary and middle levels, and gave them an incomplete on the high school part." The new letter grade: an A. Bennett said the department applied the same rules to a dozen other "combination" schools." [11]

Bennett was also investigated for misuse of public resources in the lead up to his election loss to Glenda Ritz. An AP Article[12] stated that ample evidence was discovered that linked Bennett to more than 100 instances of possible federal wire fraud. This article contradicts an earlier penalty levied against Bennett on similar charges. In that more modest penalty, Bennett agreed to pay a $5000 fine.


Bennett was born in Clark County, Indiana, is once divorced, is currently married to Tina and lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He has four children, including a set of triplets, and three grandchildren.


External links[edit]