Florida's Republicans are gullible, selfish, incompetent or all three simultaneously. Florida is home to Rush Limbaugh, whose trademark has been rather worthless, as it turns out. Florida's Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor have received nothing but bad press from day one and all the negativity is richly deserved. Even some Republicans will admit that Rick Scott is the worst Governor that Florida has had since Claude Kirk.
It's important to note that under Rick Scott's leadership, Florida changed the way it selects an Education Commissioner from being an elected position to being an appointed one. Then, seven months ago, when Scott chose Tony Bennett for the position, the Tampa Bay Times wrote:
"He is a former teacher, principal and local school superintendent, and he sounds passionate about public education. But he will have to be a better communicator in Florida than he was in Indiana."
One of these ways that politicians become "a better communicator" is via Email. In Bennett's case, he has failed in this regard because he apparently left a trail of digital breadcrumbs leading right up to a huge scandal regarding a charter school that he fostered in Indiana.
Indiana Republicans are old fashioned and as such, they are not very web savvy. They don't understand the digital age and they certainly don't understand the basic principle that "the internet never forgets". You would think the party that chose an elephant as its mascot would find that to be a point worth remembering. But just recently Indiana's new Governor, Mike Pence, came under fire for deleting facebook comments that were not wholly supportive of his office and their politics.
In Bennett's case, the evidence shows that he altered scores for privatized charter schools to make them appear better than their traditional public school counterparts. Indiana has more religious-based private schools that receive public funding than any other state in the Midwest. In fact, there is only one state in America that has more religious public schools than Indiana and that's... Florida! That unto itself is scandalous enough without the added lying, manipulation and propaganda.
According to the Tampa Bay Times yesterday:
The Associated Press first reported this week that as head of Indiana schools last fall Bennett insisted that a charter school founded by a powerful Republican donor receive an A grade instead of a C. Bennett's emails left no doubt about his intentions for Christel House Academy even as his staff questioned whether it would be legal to change the letter grade.
So, what is the Christel House Academy and why is it so important to Bennett that he would lie for it? It's a privatized charter school that operates with public funds in Indiana. This is the Republican ideal for education. It's a way to steal public education funds and use them against the system as it was designed. By funding charter schools instead of real public schools, they can avoid all the regulations inherent in a public school system. They can teach religion as scientific fact, they can serve gallons of high fructose corny syrup for lunch and they can hire loosely trained, armed security guards to stand over students with assault rifles if they want to.
The values statement on Christel House Academy's website states that they strive to teach students about "Integrity" above all else... That's a damn shame.