Glenda Ritz speaks to voters on the Dearborn County Courthouse lawn in Lawrenceburg Thursday.
Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - Glenda Ritz has a few changes in mind for public education in Indiana.
Many of them include doing away with changes made in recent years by the current Indiana Department of Education leadership.
Ritz, the Democrat candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, made a campaign stop speaking to supporters outside the Dearborn County Courthouse in Lawrenceburg Thursday morning.
The 33-year teacher from Indianapolis accused current State Superintendent Tony Bennett of being misleading in the Department of Education’s recently released ISTEP scores for grade schoolers. The two are running against each other on the November 6 statewide ballot.
Ritz said she personally did a search regarding ISTEP comparisons and noticed that reported gains on Spring ISTEP scores from the 2008-2009 school year to 2011-2012 school year showed an eight percent increase.
“This is a very misleading report because the cut-off scores for the current Spring ISTEP test were not established until after the 2008-2009 test,” Ritz said. “So the 2009-2010 school year was the baseline year of the test. This means that the actual performance gains that should be reported are only three percent in the last three years using the current cut-scores.”
Ritz also said she wants to improve transparency for school funding and other data. She cited a report in the Lafayette Journal and Courier newspaper which detailed the difficulty three reporters had in finding schools data – such as ISTEP scores, graduation rates, state funding per student, average teacher salary, and more – on the Indiana Department of Education website.
“After searching for almost one hour, members of the panel reported that the financial information was very difficult to access,” Ritz said.
As a Democrat backed by the Indiana State Teachers Association, she is against Indiana’s public vouchers for private schools. The program was created by state law – with mostly partisan support from Republican lawmakers – in 2011.
“Public money, taxpayer dollars should be spent only on public schools. That’s as simple as I can say that,” said
Another sticking point for Ritz has been the REPA II rules currently under consideration by the State Board of Education. The change, championed by Governor Mitch Daniels and passed into law in 2010, would allow individuals with a bachelor’s degree in any subject to become a certified teacher by only passing a test.
Ritz said the certification process will put unqualified teachers and administrators in Indiana’s school systems.
“My campaign will continue to discuss plans for making Indiana schools models of common sense and high quality learning,” Ritz concluded.