Conservative millionaire embarassed by high school algebra

Tony Bennett, school superintendent
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

The reality of teaching and evaluating the success of education doesn’t seem to be cooperating with the conservative message in Indianapolis.  Or at least, it’s not cooperating with rich conservatives. Must be that infamous liberal bias.

Here is the whole embarrassing story:

Tony Bennett was the superintendent of schools in Indianapolis, and got quite a reputation for being tough. “We need to hold schools accountable for bad performance!” he would say, which is a standard conservative rallying cry. Bennett implemented an A-F grading system for schools, and the grade that a school received would determine (among other things) how much state funding the school receives.  This is another reason conservatives love it: it’s a great way to take money away from schools that are already struggling. Because why would you help a school that is struggling?


Local Republican rich person, Christel DeHaan, likes to think of herself as caring about education. She cares so much that she actually runs a private school, Christel House. DeHaan also was a very large and influential donor to the school grading project, designed to crack down on all of the bad schools that are out there.

It all started to unravel when Christel House received a grade of C, primarily because the school’s test scores for algebra were so low.

What follows really isn’t Christel DeHann’s fault, although it’s potentially embarrassing for her. It’s actually much more the fault of school superintendent Tony Bennett, who apparently went completely off the rails with this news.

“Anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work!” Bennett wrote in an email, which naturally translates as, “We can’t give a bad grade to the rich person who is actually funding my pet project! I’ll be ruined… ruined!!!!

It should be noted that DeHann has given more than $2.8 million to Republicans since 1998, including $130,000 to Bennett and thousands more to state legislative leaders. So maybe Bennett was right to not want to make his owner angry.

So over the following months, Bennett pressured the grading director, Jon Gubera, on this issue, saying that anything less than an “A” for Christel House was just completely unacceptable, because it might imply that rich people aren’t pefect. Gradually, the formula for grading was revised several times, increasing from 2.9 to a 3.5.  When they discovered that this was still less than an “A”, according to the books, they had a conversation about whether they couldn’t just change the definition of “A”.


Gubera resigned shortly thereafer.

The entire thing, now opened up to the public and being reported by the AP, it’s looking very, very embarrassing for everyone involved.

And it’s all because of high school algebra….. well, and corruption.

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