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 the fall of 2012, Bennett, as Indiana superintendent of schools, changed the "A–F" school rating system so that Christel House Academy, a charter school run by a Republican donor, would receive a top A rating. Emails suggested a focus on just the one school. Bennett's email quoted 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] Bennett defended the rating change, saying the prior rating system disadvantaged Christel House because the school instructed students from kindergarten through 10th grade. Bennett said the same rating changes applied to other schools spanning nontraditional grade ranges.[11]

Bennett was investigated for misuse of public resources in the lead up to his 2012 election loss to Glenda Ritz. In July 2014, the State Ethics Commission accepted Bennett's offer to settle the ethics charges by paying a $5,000 fine.[12] Publicly, the commission admonished Bennett for minor ethics violations, but internal documents obtained from the inspector general's office listed more than 100 potential violations of federal wire fraud law by Bennett or his employees.[13] In May 2015, Marion County prosecutors had reviewed the inspector general's internal documents, and declined to pursue charges against Bennett.[14]


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.


  1. ^ "IDOE: Compass". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  2. ^ "Bennett's education ties". The Journal Gazette. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Bennett Campaign Nets $175K In Less Than Three Weeks | StateImpact Indiana". 2012-09-17. Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  6. ^ "Glenda Ritz | StateImpact Indiana". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  7. ^ Groppe, Maureen. "Indianapolis Politics/Government | Indianapolis Star". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  8. ^ "Tampa Bay, Florida news | Tampa Bay Times/St. Pete Times". Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  9. ^ "Florida education commissioner resigns over grade scandal". CFN 13. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  10. ^ LoBianco, Tom (2013-07-29). "GOP donor's school grade changed". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2017-02-02. 
  11. ^ Fitzpatrick, Cara; McGrory, Kathleen (2013-07-29). "Emails show Florida education chief changed Indiana grading formula to benefit donor's school". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2014-06-23. 
  12. ^ McInerny, Claire (2014-07-10). "State Ethics Commission Accepts Bennett's Settlement". StateImpact Indiana. Retrieved 2017-02-02. 
  13. ^ LoBianco, Tom (2014-12-02). "Tony Bennett probe called for prosecution". Indianapolis Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 2017-02-02. 
  14. ^ Disis, Jill (2015-05-05). "Former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett won't face criminal charges". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2017-02-02. 

External links[edit]