Smith says Bennett’s involvement places a “stench” on Gary schools management

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) has joined the rising chorus of officials asking that the state get rid of the emergency management firm charged with overseeing the Gary Community School Corp. because of its ties to former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, saying it places a “stench” on the entire effort.

Dr. Smith issued the following statement:

“It was recently revealed that Tony Bennett is part of the board of directors for the MGT Consulting Group, which operates the outfit currently running Gary Schools. This connection, which was kept in the dark until the media found out about it, raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the entire operation.

“While it has been more than five years since Bennett held the post of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the harm he did during his four years in office lingers to this day. He was anti-public schools, anti-student, anti-teacher, and anti-everything that didn’t have to do with benefiting the education-for-profit industry.

“For Gary Schools, it was even worse. In his four years in office, Tony Bennett never showed an ounce of empathy, sympathy, or human concern for the welfare of the people of Gary. His tenure was a dark cloud, especially compared to those who preceded and followed him in office.

“How bad was it? After four years of his ‘good work,’ the people of Indiana said enough was enough, and got rid of him. It takes a rare person to repel so many, but Tony Bennett succeeded in doing so.

“And now we are being asked to support the efforts of a group that carries his influence? It can be reasonably argued that Tony Bennett played a substantial role in putting Gary Schools into the mess that it finds itself, by championing policies that treated public schools like second class citizens in favor of charters, vouchers, and home schools. Providing for public education is not on his agenda. Making a profit for himself and his cronies is.

“I have had many concerns about the work that has been done with Gary Schools by the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB). Under the guise of ‘responsibility,’ they appear willing to continue the Republican mission of demolishing everything that has to do with public education in our state.

“But to allow a company that has links to a person who has been so dedicated to that demolition to run Gary Schools? It defies logic.

“This farce must end now. To allow this company to maintain control over the lives of so many children carries a stench that cannot easily be removed.”

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