The head of a national teachers union said Indiana's Department of Education is among the three most hostile to teachers
in the country.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten chided Indiana, Virginia and Minnesota for not including teachers
in their applications for $4.4 billion in federal education money through the Race to the Top competition. She said state
officials are blaming teachers after deciding not to file applications for a second round of funding.
"State officials in Minnesota and Indiana failed to include teachers in the application process — and then scapegoated
teachers to deflect attention from the decision not to file applications," Weingarten said in a statement Tuesday.
"What is especially troubling about the states that failed to work with teachers unions is that, as teachers well know,
the common denominator for all good schools is an environment where the adults work together on behalf of the students."
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said the positions of the Indiana Federation of Teachers leadership
have clashed with some of the positions of its locals and with comments Weingarten has made at the national level. He was
surprised by Weingarten's comments Tuesday.
"That statement is unfounded on her part," he said. "It's obvious that the leadership of the state unions
doesn't reflect Ms. Weingarten's openness to reform."
Bennett has been at odds with the Indiana Federation and the Indiana State Teachers Association, blasting them as protecting
adults at the cost of educating children.
The federal Race to the Top grant process required changes such as a willingness to link teacher-performance reviews to student
achievement. Indiana pushed harder than many other states, and teachers unions were not allowed to see the proposals until
after they were filed.
The Indiana Department of Education said that it would not apply for a second round of funding because it did not have support
from Indiana State Teachers Association, which represents most of Indiana's school districts. The union president said
teachers didn't had enough say.
"Without support from the union that represents more than 90 percent of Indiana's school districts, our application
will not be competitively positioned," Bennett said.