2013 TURKEYS OF THE YEAR

Former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett

He muddied school grades

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Less than eight months after taking the position of Florida’s education commissioner, Tony Bennett tendered his resignation. The announcement followed an Associated Press report that the former Indiana superintendent of public instruction sent emails ordering tweaks to Indiana’s A-F school grading system in 2012 when it seemed that an Indianapolis charter school, named for one of Bennett’s major campaign donors, would get a C. Despite proclamations of his innocence, Bennett, who called the news stories “malicious and unfounded,” resigned his post so as not to be a “distraction.” The implications of his impropriety, which Bennett said were leaked to the press to damage his political standing, have also had a negative impact on Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts toward improving school accountability within the state, not to mention any future progress, especially since Scott personally appointed Bennett to the position. Since Bennett’s departure in August, Indiana Inspector General David Thomas has filed a complaint with the state’s ethics commission for Bennett’s alleged use of state resources for political fundraising and to conduct other political and/or personal activity.

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