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Key senator against changes to Indiana schools chief

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The leader of Indiana's Senate Education Committee said Tuesday that Republicans shouldn't change the state schools superintendent position to one appointed by the governor following the election of a Democrat to that office.

Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse said he would oppose any effort to make the job an appointed one, at least until incoming schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz's term expires in 2016.

"I like more people being elected overall. I just think it's healthier for our society and healthier for our economy and accountability to have more people elected, to have more people answer to the people," Kruse said.

Ritz, an Indianapolis school librarian, upset Republican incumbent Tony Bennett in last month's election with the help of teachers who opposed changes he pushed, including measures tying teacher pay to student performance, a school takeover plan and the nation's largest use of school vouchers.

Her grass-roots victory sparked renewed Statehouse talk of letting the governor pick the state's top education official. Only 11 states elect their top education official.

Kruse said the idea could merit consideration in Indiana but that it wouldn't be right to make a change before Ritz's term is up.

"They won't get my vote unless they wait," he said.

Kruse was meeting with Ritz Tuesday afternoon to discuss issues ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

Kruse said lawmakers plan to review the A-F school grading system Bennett rolled out just before the election and could find common ground with Ritz with concerns over the national Common Core Standards and a new third-grade reading test.

"I think there's ground there to work together and to try and make these improvements," he said.

Ritz's campaign was based on the notion that Bennett moved too fast and that his efforts weren't in students' best interest. Many teachers have said they hope she can roll back some of Bennett's changes, but it's unclear how much she'll be able to do as a Democrat working with a Republican governor and Legislature.

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  • Tony was defeted not by teachers, but by his anti-eduction policies.
    I voted against Tony Bennett not because of a teacher action, but because I saw how Tony was selling education to commercial interests. I took exception to his office being too busy to respond to public requests for information. I found his "State of Education" speech (to a private audience) to be an egotistical self-promotion rather than a report on our schools. (First Mitch spends ten minutes saying Tony is the best, then Tony reads from the teleprompter for ten minutes about Mitch being the greatest. It is not a good video for children to view.) I feel that one cannot judge a teacher by student test scores. (and a long list of other items) I used to take the Indianapolis Star, and now the Fort Wayne paper. Fort Wayne gave a much different story on Tony Bennett than the Indianapolis Star. (Taking a press release and calling it news is not reporting.)
  • Appoint
    So 11 states elect the chief education officer and 39 appoint it. It seems that this should be part of the governor's staff. This could ensure that the person is qualified and doing their job. I think back on the Marion County Prosecutor which seems like it should also be appointed. Brizzi could not be removed due to his seemingly unethical dealings because he was elected.

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