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Teacher wrath boosts Ritz to upset in state education race

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School librarian Glenda Ritz denied Republican Tony Bennett a second term as Indiana schools superintendent Tuesday as voters spurned a sweeping conservative education overhaul.

"This race was a referendum on the future of education in Indiana," Ritz said Tuesday night.

The Democrat's win was seen as a victory for Indiana teachers who have felt Bennett blamed them for school failures. Many educators have opposed changes under Bennett that include expanding charter school access, limiting teachers' collective bargaining and basing teacher pay raises on annual evaluations.

Bennett also pushed for the state's private school voucher program and oversaw the first state takeover of troubled public schools.

"I have no regrets," Bennett said in his concession speech, while acknowledging that some of his policies had proven unpopular.

Ritz pledged to roll back many of Bennett's changes, including a reading test that third-graders must pass to advance to fourth grade.

"I think the voters have been really clear that we want an education agenda, not a political agenda for our kids," she said.

Ritz said parents, not just teachers, disliked Bennett's changes, particularly a move toward private takeovers of public schools that repeatedly fail performance grades based largely on standardized tests.

"Parents around Indiana were concerned about high stakes testing and the A-F grade system that was imposed on us," she said.

"Teaching to the test, as we've been relegated to doing, is not providing students with a good education," Ritz added.

Ritz is an elementary school library media specialist in Washington Township schools in Indianapolis.

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  • Effective Measures
    I have the privilege of working as a public school teacher in the state of Indiana. In the past, there have been poor teachers protected by a flawed system. I support teacher accountability because I think ALL kids have the right to a quality education and teachers. I do not, however, support public dollars funding private schools, nor do I support flawed teacher evaluation measures. It is the job of the superintendent to lead the charge to improve schools. I have no doubt about Bennett's clear passion for students. But any good educator knows you don't just focus on one stakeholder for optical students success. You have to have ALL on board... legislatures, administrators, community members, students, parents and a group Mr. Bennett has greatly disrespected by lumping the good ones in with the few poor ones... Teachers. We should all be working as partners in education, not as name-calling adversaries.
  • ___
    Watch the name-calling, I'd say. There was a legitimate loser on this issue and it was Mr. Bennett and his disdain for public schools. You can't name-call teachers and schools forever and expect to get away with it. I grew up in a public school.. Went to a private school for college.. Then back to public for my law degree. A public education is great so long as it is SUPPORTED and not undermined by directionless, seething anger such as is being displayed below.
  • Exactly why private schools thrive
    This is why those who can, leave IPS. The teachers union acts like a bunch of bratty teenagers, with regard only for their job security. Fine, keep at it. Enjoy driving your kids further into poverty while you stare at the clock waiting to beat the buses out of the parking lot everyday. Thank God for private schools. And shame on all of you for your rabid obstruction to charter and voucher schools. The essence of intellectual vapidity - you protect your jobs at the expense of the children you do not educate.
  • What a joke
    As a teacher, I feel that this is a complete joke and another example of unions and lazy, incompetent teachers deciding what is best for themselves rather than being serious about education reform. Glenda's knowledge of the Dewey decimal system should prove to be invaluable in making meaningful changes for our broken public education system. Total embarrassment.
  • Congrats, Indiana... you voted for a librarian
    So, the state got rid of an experienced administrator who was pushing for reform to replace him with the school librarian with apparently no experience handling money or policy in the public sector. She won't know what to do, so then she'll go back to the teacher's union that ran their last-minute fearmongering to get her in there, they'll stick their hands up her rear end and she'll be the puppet of the problem. Great... just great.

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