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Resistance to reform? Play offense

Indiana state Superintendent Tony Bennett sometimes can't resist resorting to his old high school basketball coach approach when talking about education.

The coach in him slipped out when Bennett was interviewed recently by an Education Week reporter about state policy initiatives. He told writer Andrew Ujifusa that the pace of change shouldn't slow and that state education chiefs should use "aggression" in pushing for new policies. The word choice was notable enough that Ujifusa pointed it out in a blog posting headline.

The writer also notes that the Indiana superintendent's aggressive agenda hasn't gone unchallenged or unscathed:

Now, Bennett's comments don't mean that his previous efforts are immune from reversals. Just this month, an Indiana judge struck down a portion of the teachers' contract that limits collective bargaining concerning the number of hours teachers work. The Indiana State Teachers Association argued that the portion of the contract in question would have allowed districts to increase those hours unilaterally without consulting the union. How this issue will be resolved is unclear: The Courier-Press reports Indiana's department is considering an appeal.

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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