Dr. Tony Bennett Honored with John T. Walton Champions for School Choice Award

Indiana Superintendent recognized for commitment to children, high-quality educational options

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 7, 2012)—Dr. Tony Bennett—the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction who was instrumental in advocating for and implementing the largest first-year voucher program ever—received the John T. Walton Champions for School Choice Award last week at the third annual National Policy Summit hosted by the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Click here to watch the full presentation of the award.)

Bennett, who was elected as the head of Indiana’s public school system in 2008, worked closely with Governor Mitch Daniels and the state legislature to create the Choice Scholarship Program, a statewide voucher program for students from low- and middle-income families to attend the school of their parents’ choice.  Nearly 4,000 students were enrolled in the program in its first year.

“Tony Bennett is a committed advocate for Indiana’s children and has worked tirelessly to ensure that all Hoosier children have access to more educational opportunities,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the Alliance for School Choice.  “Tony has dedicated his life to improving the lives of children.  His leadership, dedication, and humility embody the ideals of the Walton award.”

The award, named after the philanthropist and education reform champion John T. Walton, honors a prominent leader in the school choice movement for groundbreaking and dedicated work for America’s children.

The Alliance created the award to honor Walton, who died tragically in a 2005 plane crash, to recognize his amazing personal and financial contributions to the cause of providing educational options for children, especially those from low-income families. Previous award winners have included leading philanthropists, school choice pioneers, and grassroots leaders.

Since becoming superintendent in 2009, Bennett has shepherded reforms including voucher and tax credit scholarship programs, charter school expansion, and merit pay, resulting in dramatically more educational options, increased high school graduation rates, and improved scores on state assessment exams and Advanced Placement exams.  Prior to becoming superintendent, Bennett worked as a science teacher, basketball coach, principal, and local school superintendent.

To watch a video on the history of the Alliance for School Choice’s John T. Walton Champions for School Choice Award, as well as Walton’s contributions to the movement, click here.

For a comprehensive list of former recipients, click here.

The full 2012 award presentation can be seen here.