Republican McCormick Shares Education Policy Plan
By Mike Perleberg
Jennifer McCormick, Republican candidate for Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, unveiled her education policy plan on Wednesday, September 21. Photo by Dan Carden, The Northwest Indiana Times.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Republican candidate Jennifer McCormick said Indiana has to have a state superintendent of public instruction who will commit to working with lawmakers and the governor.
“That has to happen. For us to be a state where that’s known across the nation that there’s a relational problem is unacceptable. We have to have people who will work together,” McCormick said during a press conference Wednesday.
McCormick is challenging Democratic incumbent state superintendent Glenda Ritz this November. While who is to blame may be up for debate, Ritz’s more than three years in office have seen the Indiana Department of Education frequently square off with the Republican-led state legislature and Governor Mike Pence’s administration. Standardized testing and school vouchers have been particular hot-button issues.
Saying that students should be put ahead of politics, McCormick revealed her strategy for education issues in the state called “Lesson Plan for Indiana”. Her plans include attracting and retaining quality teachers, increasing the state’s broadband internet capability to reach all schools, and closing the kindergarten readiness gap.
The Yorktown Community Schools superintendent’s plan also calls for the Indiana Department of Education to work with stakeholders to review Indiana’s school funding formula. On the issue of publicly-funded private school vouchers, McCormick doesn’t believe the state superintendent – whoever that person it – can halt the program.
“When you get into the funding of (vouchers) … our legislators have made the decision that that’s the route they’re going. It’s not the state superintendent who’s going to expand that or stop that,” McCormick said.
She may have a point. Even with Ritz, a staunch opponent of vouchers and charter schools, as superintendent, enrollment in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship voucher program has increased exponentially over the past four years, with more than 32,000 students statewide receiving a voucher in the 2015-2016 school year.
Ritz’s campaign chided McCormick for waiting until less than seven weeks before Election Day, November 8, to make a policy announcement.
“Meanwhile, Superintendent Ritz has spent years working to get rid of ISTEP and offer high-quality Pre-K to every parent and student who wants it. She is focused on an education agenda, not a political agenda,” said Ritz4Education campaign manager Annie Mansfield.
The Democratic candidate has also attempted to tie McCormick to former Indiana state superintendent Tony Bennett, whom Ritz ousted in an upset back in 2012. The Ritz campaign said McCormick’s policy announcement took place at the Institute for Quality Education, where Bennett has been reported to serve as senior advisor and consultant.
McCormick’s campaign said Thursday that the Ritz campaign’s statement about the announcement venue was inaccurate. A spokesperson for McCormick said the press conference was held in a conference room in a building where the Institute for Quality Education is headquartered, however, the conference room is not part of the IQE’s offices. The location was chosen for its proximity to the Indiana Statehouse and convenience for news reporters, the spokesperson said.