Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

September 24, 2013

TOM LoBIANCO: Transparency falls to Ritz with new 'A-F' scores

Fallout from Bennett has raised bar of expectation.

(Continued)

But the bad includes some high-level incidents like a meeting of the Purdue Board of Trustees at Chicago O’Hare International Airport last year to select their new president. The Journal & Courier in Lafayette petitioned the state’s public access counselor for details on the meeting location at the airport but was told that simply knowing it’s somewhere in one of the world’s largest airports should suffice.

The pair of veteran Statehouse analysts hired to determine how Bennett and his team had changed the grading formula delivered a series of findings to lawmakers earlier this month. They found neither vindication nor condemnation for the former schools chief, although they described deep concerns about the transparency with which the last formula was written.

The answer, said John Grew and Bill Sheldrake, needed to be actual transparency.

“The process of development of a new system should be based on: 1. Extensive involvement by experts and practitioners from the education community. 2. Transparency in all decision-making by the [State Board of Education] and [Indiana Department of Education] throughout the development process and final adoption of the revised rule,” the authors wrote.

So Ritz and the other leaders who will craft these new rules have profusely guaranteed transparency.

Any skepticism from the public could be easily understood: Bennett spent his four years in office promising the creation of his formula would be “fair, transparent and easy to understand.” Even before the grade-changing scandal, local education leaders had been carping that the creation of the grading formula had met none of those promises.

The publication of Bennett’s emails only showed exactly what they had been missing.

With Bennett out of the superintendent’s office, the responsibility for openness is now on Ritz. The fallout from Bennett raised the bar for her, but that’s not saying it will be too high to clear.

Tom LoBianco covers Indiana politics for The Associated Press. Follow him at twitter.com/tomlobianco.

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