The politics behind the scandal are ugly — and sure to get uglier in coming days — but in some ways it obscures the concerns that the A-F grading system was flawed from the start.
Earlier this year — long before the Bennett scandal broke — Republican and Democratic legislators were calling for the A-F system to be overhauled. Among those lawmakers was Republican state Sen. Carlin Yoder, a former school administrator and a Bennett ally on many things. Goshen is in Yoder’s district.
“I knew the Goshen schools were doing tremendous things,” Yoder told me earlier this week. “So that’s what caught my attention.”
Yoder was part of the group of lawmakers who successfully pushed for the law that mandates the State Board of Education come up with a new A-F system by November.
“We don’t have an A-to-F grading system that is fair to schools,” Yoder said. “We need to work on it.”
The Bennett scandal will make that task difficult: Hearts have been hardened by the allegations and already the conversations in the Statehouse have turned bitterly partisan. Surely, the Bennett scandal will be exploited for all its worth.
When writing this column, I went to back to look at that story I wrote about the West Goshen Elementary School and pulled this quote from that principal who was working so hard to do right by his students: “It doesn’t matter what we’re teaching if the students aren’t learning,” he said. “To focus on anything other than learning is a big waste of time.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana, which includes The Goshen News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org