Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Glenda Ritz Deserves Four More Years to Reform Education with Governor John Gregg

Superintendent Ritz
Of all the races on the ballot, because of my day job, Superintendent of Public Instruction means a lot to me.

For those of you that don't know, I've been a public educator since 1997.  I teach at the Area 31 Career Center in Wayne Township where I've been since 1999.  I write this endorsement not in my capacity in any way, shape or form as anything but a voter and someone who is very concerned about education in the state.  As always, this is just my opinion.

As I began to approach my decision on who to place my trust in to help lead the state's education policy, I tried to get past the party description of both candidates as well as how they've been characterized by their opposition.

I started with a web search to see what I could learn about the candidate I had no opinion about, Jennifer McCormick.  Through that search, I was able to find that Dr. McCormick is a capable and respected education leader in the state.  She has articulated some very strong opinions with which I agree.  For example, she believes that the entire performance pay system isn't working.  She believes that paying teachers matters, and she also believes that a single letter grade doesn't represent he performance of a school.  On the other hand, I'm a bit concerned that she wants to take a top down approach when it comes to evaluating teachers as opposed to the current way of setting guidelines and allowing school districts to meet those guidelines on evaluating their teachers as they see fit.  That's a huge concern to me.

Dr. Jennifer McCormick
Many of her proposals have little detail attached to them, and she did not really perform that well under direct questioning at Monday's Superintendent of Public Instruction Debate.  What I did learn is that the Democratic attempt to tie her to Tony Bennett's failed leadership of the Department of Education is unfair and completely inaccurate.  In fact, McCormick not only takes issue with how Ritz has done business but also is willing to attack the political climate of the DOE under Bennett.

Turning to Superintendent Ritz, my main concern has been has she been up to the task of leading the Department of Education.  Let's begin with this: it's been a very difficult climate for a Democrat at the Statehouse these four years.

It seems that nearly everyone in that building with any power or authority has been out to get Ritz.  She has been ridiculed as essentially "just a librarian" by David Long.  She has been undercut by Governor Mike Pence who tried to create a shadow Department of Education.  She has been railroaded by his appointments on the Indiana Board of Education, and the General Assembly, for the first time in the history of Indiana, passed legislation removing the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction as Chair of the Indiana Board of Education.

In short, any plans Ritz has had to change education in this state have been met with the scrutiny of an entire Indiana government structure that has been against her.  It's almost impossible to do anything in that climate.

Ritz has gotten things done.  She has held her head high, and she hasn't let being the target of every Republican's frustration at Democrats in state government stop her.  This is among her best attributes.  With a true partner in the Governor's Office, it will be interesting to see what the next four years of education might be like.  John Gregg has the right ideas.

I like McCormick, but I have concerns about her platform and her ability to stand up to the Republican Party that will almost certainly still be in control of the Indiana General Assembly.  I like Ritz even though her first term in office has been largely frustrated by partisan fights and disappointing political machinations.

In 2016, I've decided to endorse Glenda Ritz for another four-year term in office.  I think that with Governor John Gregg, Ritz will have a different climate to work from and will successfully help to improve education in the state.  As a teacher, I think she is the right person to recruit others to teach.  She's tough and has been tested against almost everything the Republicans can throw at her.

I will be voting for Glenda Ritz.

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