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A rewarding state contract

The Indiana Department of Education announced today that it has signed a contract with Apangea Math, a Pittsburgh-based company, to provide an online tutoring program for Indiana students.

The program will be funded with about $1 million in state funds this year. But the contract "leaves the door open for statewide implementation in the future if initial outcomes show potential."

The department chose Apangea in competitive bidding, the news release notes, but the company isn't a stranger to state Superintendent Tony Bennett. The Indiana campaign finance database indicates the Pennsylvania company made two $1,000 contributions to his campaign, as well as a $1,000 contribution to the Indiana Republican State Committee.

In addition, the wife of Apangea's co-founder and CEO, Louis Piconi, gave Bennett's campaign $1,000.

According to the DOE contract, students participating in the tutoring program collect points that can be traded in for rewards, including T-shirts and gift cards.

Looks as if everybody wins here, but I'm not sure how Hoosiers will feel about those student rewards. The recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll on education finds that three out of four Americans are opposed to paying students to learn.

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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