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Bennett's barber shop moment

I would like to think this Web interview is a well-placed joke, but I'm afraid it's not. State Superintendent Tony Bennett's participation suggests his initial decision to speak at a creationism conference wasn't a one-time misstep. In fact, the program is Bennett's second online broadcast with the "Two Joes."

You have to go about 17 minutes into the recording (after the advertisements for asphalt and orthotics) to hear Bennett questioned on Barack Obama's "indoctrination" of students, discipline and the demise of the yearbook program at Manual High School in Indianapolis, the interviewer's alma mater.

The interviewer supports corporal punishment, paints Indiana's colleges and universities as liberal bastions and complains that schools aren't doing the job they once did. He apparently believes there's a difference between "U.S. history" and "American history." (Thank goodness schools aren't doing the job they once did.)

For his part, Bennett complains in the 34-minute interview that the state's accountability law uses "fuzzy descriptors" to assess schools and cheerfully reports that the reviews of schools on academic probation revealed they weren't the unruly jungles he seemed to suspect.

This odd exchange, which ends with the interviewer calling Bennett a "patriot" would be frightening to any Fortune 500 company officials looking to relocate to Indiana.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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