What strikes me though as a proper discussion topic, which doesn't seem to be so far, is the role of Bennett's staff in the scandal.
Too often when politicians rise to power they develop a dangerous hubris, a belief that they can do no wrong. Those politicians often become isolated, surrounding themselves with staff that consists of yes men and women who ratify the hubris. Staffers who dare express contrary views to the politicians are marginalized, perhaps even fired. Very often these staffers are young, inexperienced and often don't have strong personalities. They are the perfect types of staffers to help a politician's hubris grow even larger. When it came to the discussion of changing the Chrystel House Academy's grade, most of Bennett's staffers simply went along with the notion while never telling their boss that his idea was terrible and could get him in trouble.
During the last few years of Bennett's tenure as Indiana's education chief, I heard a lot of frustration from education reformers not only about Bennett, but also about members of his staff who were not very supportive of reforms like charter schools. Increasingly surrounding by status quo establishment staffers, Bennett had become closed off to much of the education reform movement. Education reformers and Republican state legislators were complaining about Bennett the last couple years of his tenure, and even going so far as to rebuke the Superintendent by passing a bill providing for a summer study committee.
Part of the problem was Bennett and his ever increasing ego. But also problematic was a staff that acted to ratify Bennett's increasingly isolated thinking about education reform and to protect him from diverse views. That is a mistake that politicians like Governor Mike Pence cannot repeat. When Gov. Pence hires top staffers, he needs to look for experience and for strong personalities who aren't intimidated by the fact he is a Governor. He needs people who are willing to tell him the truth, even when that truth is not something he wants to hear.
Bennett's fall is not only the result of own hubris, but it was a result of a staff members who failed in their professional duties to give their boss honest advice about a foolish course he was choosing.