Bill Bennett Surprised Me!

On Wednesday morning, I attended the Idaho Business in Education early morning event featuring former US Secretary of Education, the very well known Bill Bennett.  He headed the Dept. of Ed under Pres. Reagan back in the 80’s.

First Gov. Otter spoke. It’s obvious he’s still backing Common Core, as is the sponsor group IBE.  So it was my expectation that Bill Bennett would espouse the same viewpoint, and in fact, I expected him to tell us all, at length, that the Common Core / Idaho Core (same thing) program. is great.  He did not.

Halfway through his talk, which by the way was incredibly interesting and entertainingly delivered with only a few scribbled notes on a yellow tablet page, Bill Bennett dropped this bombshell:  He said that the Federal government has “messed up Common Core horribly”.  He is, and always has been, in favor of high standards which can be voluntarily shared across the country, and he’s for some sort of national testing, but he was bluntly against the overuse of testing now.  He didn’t address the SBAC test by name, but said the NAEP (Nat’l Assessment of Ed. Progress) test, which was used when he was at the DOE, is still a good measure of student achievement. Bill Bennett is strongly in favor of homeschooling, school choice and rewarding good teachers with higher pay.

After the talk, I encountered Mr. Bennett sitting on a bench out in the hallway, so I introduced myself, complimented his presentation, told him I’m on the Senate Ed. Committee and asked what he thinks Idaho should do to get the Feds out of our educational system.  He said the governors of the interested states should get together back in DC, and demand the Feds get their hands out of local education.  I was so impressed, I think I’ll order one of his many books.  The man is a rare mix of brilliance and common sense.