Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

What Glenda Ritz's Victory Over Tony Bennett Means For Indiana Schools

Democratic state superintendent candidate Glenda Ritz participates in a panel discussion in Indianapolis last month.

In late August — her campaign more than $1 million in campaign contributions behind her opponent, Tony Bennett — Democratic state superintendent candidate Glenda Ritz made a prediction.

“I am not worried about funding for this campaign,” she told StateImpact. “I have a good grassroots campaign. And at the end of the day, it’s about who shows up at the polls, and I firmly believe that I’ll be the next Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

Until perhaps last Friday, when the only poll to publish numbers on the race showed Ritz within striking distance, there weren’t many in Indiana who took that prediction seriously.

It took a stunning election night upset, $173,000 from the state’s largest teachers union and a strong ground game to prove Ritz’s prediction true.

Retired teacher Jill Lyday helps stuff bumper stickers and postcards into plastic bags for state superintendent candidate Glenda Ritz, a Democrat. Though Ritz's campaign received numerous small donations, two large cash infusions and organizational support from the Indiana State Teachers Association have been key to her run for office.

Many doubted Ritz’s ability to compete with Bennett, and not only because of his lead in campaign fundraising. Bennett was the face for significant changes to the state’s education policy. He expanded school choice, he intervened in struggling schools, he pushed for teacher evaluations and revamped A-F letter grades — and he won national acclaim in some circles for doing so.

“This [race] is definitely being watched nationally as a referendum on reform,” Mike Petrilli, the executive vice president of the right-leaning Fordham Institute and Bennett ally, told the Associated Press. “If Tony Bennett can push this kind of aggressive reform agenda and win, it will give a big lift to other politicians eager to enact similar reforms.”

‘It Might Be A Standoff’ In General Assembly

Ritz may have won the “referendum” on the direction of Indiana education policy, but it’s still far from clear the degree to which Ritz will be able to alter the course of Bennett’s policies.

After all, unlike Bennett, she will not work with a governor and statehouse leaders from her own party. As David Dresslar, executive director of the Indianapolis-based Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, told us in an interview:

It would probably be an uphill battle with regard to rolling back education reforms given fact that the legislature’s likely to be Republican majority in both chambers. Therefore it might be kind of a standoff with a Ritz superintendency. A standoff might just give us four years of inaction. On the other hand, the legislature could go ahead and proceed without the state superintendent. It’s an interesting consideration because of the superintendent’s role in formulating policy as opposed to carrying out that  policy once it’s legislated.

Jonathan Plucker, who was director of IU’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy when he spoke to StateImpact last month, says it would be difficult for Ritz to undo all of Bennett’s policy initiatives:

It’s going to be very difficult to roll back some of these reforms. Some of them certainly… for purely legal and policy reasons can’t be rolled back. Or if they do, it really opens a Pandora’s box. So for example if we roll back the new school accountability system, we have to change the waiver that we received from the federal government from the No Child Left Behind provisions, which is not going to be a minor, easy feat.

‘I Have Credibility Among Legislators’

Ritz told StateImpact after her win Tuesday night that she will be able to work with the General Assembly:

I think I’m going to be able to work with whomever I’m going to need to work with. I am an educator. I think I’m a respected educator among legislators. Remember, the last four years, they’ve seen me. They’ve heard from me. I’ve testified in many arenas, so I think I have some credibility among legislators. I have not really met Mike Pence. But I look forward to it so we that can be on a good path towards an educational agenda in Indiana.

That said, Ritz tells StateImpact she’ll work carefully to ensure any policy changes she makes don’t endanger funding for schools.

Questions Hard To Answer In One Election Night

Specifically, the policy positions she’s taken raise very big questions that we won’t even try to fully answer here. But they’re worth raising, simply because they show just how much about Indiana’s education policy has changed in the past four years:

  • Teacher Evaluations: Ritz’s primary electoral support came from teachers — many of whom, for the first time this year, will be subject to the requirements of a new statewide teacher evaluation mandate. Ritz says teachers ought to be evaluated, but the evaluations should not have high stakes attached to them, such as merit pay. Yet she cannot singlehandedly undo the requirements of the law — especially because many of the requirements are being wired into local teacher contracts. Will Ritz be able to take any action to address a desire of a key demographic that got her elected?
  • Glenda Ritz reads from her opening statement during a candidate forum at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.

    Takeovers: Indiana Department of Education officials signed contracts with several “turnaround operators” to run five public schools in Indianapolis and Gary with chronically poor standardized test scores. Ritz says she does not believe private companies should receive taxpayer dollars to operate schools. (Two of the three turnaround operators are private companies, one is a not-for-profit.) How will Ritz work with these turnaround operators?

  • Common Core: Tony Bennett was one of the nation’s leading supporters of a move to national academic standards known as the Common Core State Standards. Ritz is a skeptic of these standards (as are many within the Republican party) and has often said she wants to give the standards “a second look.” Ritz says she wants to “look into” the state’s agreements to move to new Common Core-focused standardized testsHow much will Ritz be able to dial back in Indiana’s embrace of the Common Core?
  • A-F Letter Grades & The NCLB Waiver: Ritz bashed school letter grades Bennett released last week, citing the widespread criticism to the new model used to calculate them. While Ritz wants to implement a “true growth model” — a shot at Tony Bennett’s Indiana Growth Model, which the outgoing state superintendent says makes individual student growth a greater factor in a school’s letter grade — much of the current A-F letter grading system is part of Indiana’s waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind act. “That waiver has items in it where we’re going to need to comply with other consortiums and other vendor contracts that have been entered into which may not want to be the path we want to head in Indiana for education,” Ritz has told StateImpact. But implementing new statewide exams and changing the letter grade system could have dire impacts under the waiver. Will Ritz be able to untangle the A-F grades, the waiver, and the current testing regime?

We’re posing these questions now — but no rush. We have four years to answer them.

National Ripples?

The Indy Star‘s Scott Elliott posits Bennett will land on his feet. But what about the national education policy circles who supported him? As Andrew Ujifsa writes at State EdWatch:

This has to be a major blow for charter, school choice, and the general “education reform” community. Bennett was an outspoken champion of big changes that happened in the Hoosier State and others around the country, and he was also a strong GOP voice for things like the Common Core State Standards. What will his loss mean for that community going forward?

As Indiana Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Brinegar summed it up for Inside Indiana Business, “virtually all the legislators who voted in favor of education reform were re-elected and the Superintendent of Public Instruction was not.”

UPDATE: Take a look at this map showing how Bennett’s share of the county-by-county vote changed from 2008.

What are your thoughts on Glenda Ritz’s victory?

Comments

  • Teacher

    Way to go, Glenda! As a teacher who is fed up with politicians running our educational system, you are a breath of fresh air. Finally, we have someone who is a true educator on our side! Best wishes!

  • Mark

    Congratulations Glenda!!! This position needs someone who understands the challenges of the modern education system that has been a teacher on the front lines in the classroom. Thanks for running!!

  • TW78

    A question: what will this election do to the push to make the position an appointed spot? Legislature could abolish the office as an elected position at end of her first term, which Bennett advocated.

    • Hoosier Parent

      This is the very same question that came to my mind when
      Mrs. Ritz was announced the winner of the election. Republicans have the
      majority in Indianapolis. It would not surprise me if there will be legislation
      passed that will make this position an appointed office. When the Republicans
      lose they will change the rules so that they can still have their way. I
      believe that this will be a short lived victory. If the Indiana Democratic Party
      cannot get itself organized to the point where we can have a democratic
      governor and more democrats in state legislature the Republican Party will
      force its education reform ideology on Hoosier parents.

      • Republican Teacher

        That is not at all true. There are so many republicans who truly believe in what Ritz is doing and that better be shown through the representatives. After all, if all republicans had voted straight republican on their ballot she would not be in office right now.

        • kystokes

          Even so, I think TW78′s question is really germane. This is something Bennett pushed for. The mechanics of this move are tricky. It’s worth us asking some lawmakers to see if this will be the movement — I heard that secondhand from a Dem lawmaker just this AM.

        • Indiana Teacher

          Please wake up Republican Teacher. The Republican politicians have a reform agenda that they are determined to push through. Sadly all of the members of the party will be coerced to vote the way Pence, Bosma, etc want them to vote. Look at the last two legislative sessions. Anything that the Republican leaders wanted they got with virtually 100% support from the members of their party.

          Do not think that I am a left leaning ideologue. I am 51 and for all of my life I have voted primarily Republican. Now I feel as if I have been stabbed in the back by the very party I once supported.

          Regarding your comment “if all republicans had voted straight republican on their ballot she would not be in office right now.” The Republicans who voted for her were not the party members who are in office. Do you really think that Pence, Behning, Bosma or any Republican state representative actually voted for Ritz? The people in office are the ones who will write and pass legislation regarding education in Indiana. The average Republican citizen who voted for Ritz will have no influence whatsoever.

  • ciorciari1@att.net

    Get the voucher system corrected and bring public education back to public education. I people want their children to go to private school then pay for it and send them.

    • A teacher

      The issue is that people want their children to go to GOOD schools where they will be safe and learn. The public education system in many areas and classrooms was, and still is, broken. When people are willing to go through the hassle of getting a voucher and switching their kids from one school to another this must say something about the quality of education that the kids are being provided. There is no urgency in the public system for teachers to do a good job. In our city they are getting rid of many high quality teachers who are younger and do not have as much experience in the classroom to keep more experienced teachers who are just not stepping up and providing good learning environments. In some cases there are teachers now teaching kindergarten that have no previous experience below third grade. These teachers displaced some very good kindergarten teachers because they have been in a certain building longer than the very good kindergarten teachers.. who were then let go!?? The new “kindergarten” teachers do not want to teach kindergarten and are probably not doing a very good job at it but they are in the building that they want to be in! It actually sounds like I am lying. There couldn’t be a system where decisions are made like this – could there? There is…. There should be (as Bennett tried to put in place) a system to evaluate teachers based on their performance in the classroom and on how far they take the kids in their class. Bennett’s system might not have been perfect, but a performance based system is better than our community’s current system where the union decides who stays based on how long they have been there. It is the most screwed up thing I have ever seen. If a business was run the way the public school system is run, the business would be out of business in short order. If people can get a better education outside of the public system then why should they not be able to send their kids where they want? Why should their tax dollars have to go to buy more things and hire more administrators (who do very little) for the public schools? People who are getting vouchers ARE paying for their kids to go to private schools. They are paying their taxes and they should be able to chose the best education that they can find for those tax dollars. The public schools should take a close look at why people are flocking to alternative choices and begin to fix the issues that they have. I would never be against public schools if they were the best choice, but they must start to push themselves and become the best choice.

    • TaxPaynPrvtschoolParent

      Sounds great. Those who make the move should get a tax credit equal to the current amount of tax payer money the state spends per student. I think it is $10k+.

      • Karynb

        That’s fine. I don’t really like my local police department and I’d prefer to hire a private security firm to protect my house. Can I have an appropriate refund on my tax bill next time, too?

  • A parent

    It’s amazes me how professionals in other fields can be held accountable for their performance but not teachers. The system was failing before Bennett came in and attempted reform. We’re going back? Not good for the children of this state.

    • inteach

      What exactly do you have against democracy?

    • Eric

      The problem with teacher accountability is that they’re held accountable
      for factors over which they have no control. Every credible study of
      effective education done for the past 50 years shows that external
      factors like socioeconomic status and parents’ level of education have
      more impact on student performance (universally) than the quality of the
      teacher. For example, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds
      consistently under-perform their peers IN THE SAME CLASSES across the
      spectrum of race, gender, etc. Current evaluation models don’t consider
      these external factors, though, and place sole responsibility on the
      teachers. That’s like basing doctors’ ability to renew his license on
      the quality of their patients’ medical insurance. They wouldn’t stand
      for that, and teachers are fighting back.

      Most teachers have no problem with being held accountable for their efforts, but oppose unidirectional evaluations based heavily on students’ test scores. They want to be evaluated holistically using systems that do NOT blame them (at least completely) for elements over which they have no control.

      • A parent

        Don’t agree. There are ways of taking into account a child’s background. Measure progress by student, not on a one size fits all. Factor in their background. My children have suffered through ineffective teachers. I’m sorry, but in Indiana my situation is becoming the norm. The effective teachers have been few and far between. The fact that my child came home telling me why Bennett should go speaks volumes about the professionalism of his teachers and what they discuss in class.

        • Karynb9

          “There are ways of taking into account a child’s background. Measure progress by student, not on a one size fits all. Factor in their background” That all sounds absolutely perfect and we teachers would love to see that evaluation metric developed. Go ahead and develop one that meets current federal guidelines and does indeed account for not only a child’s background, but also for the fact that Susie was sick the week of ISTEP and didn’t do as well as she could have…and Edward had to re-take a portion of the test because the computer server had a problem and crashed in the middle of the test…and Johnny had a soccer game that went late the night before the writing prompt portion of ISTEP and was too tired to be able to focus to write for more than fifteen minutes…and a principal didn’t know the rules and refused to allow upper-level math students to use a calculator on their ECA exam though it’s permitted…because the current evaluation metric holds ME responsible for ALL of those situations. Stop with the “at least this is better than NOTHING” rhetoric — “I don’t know how to fix what’s wrong with your arm, so I’ll just amputate it because at least it’s better than doing NOTHING” wouldn’t work in the medical field, so why do we think it’s okay for education?

          • A parent

            I’m sorry, but you are listing excuses. I don’t buy it. Guess what – if I’m ineffective in my job, I get fired. I have yet to see a bad teacher get fired. All I hear from teachers are excuses. I’m not saying it’s easy. I find that the really good teachers I know, don’t get this defensive and don’t list excuses – they just go about their job day in and day out.

          • Karynb9

            Yes, those absolutely are excuses. An “excuse” is simply a reason why something may not happen — it doesn’t mean it’s a lie. You’re telling me that a student pukes all over his ISTEP booklet…the test result has to be marked as “undetermined” (which is NOT “passing”)…and that makes me an ineffective teacher? And I don’t have a valid “excuse” as to why that student didn’t get a passing score on ISTEP?!? I’m guessing if you’re effective in your job 99.92% of the time during a year, you’re considered to be a great employee. If I’m effective in my job 99.92% of the time during a year…but that 0.08% of the time when something goes wrong happens to be one hour during which my students take ISTEP, I can be labeled as ineffective. Also, last time I checked, it wasn’t a teacher’s responsibility to get bad teachers fired. Sounds like your gripe is with poor administrators who are too lazy to get the job done. I hope you’re not blaming bad teachers not getting fired for why you think education is messed up — that’s an “excuse,” you know…

          • http://www.facebook.com/lacey.gross Lacey Gentry

            Right now, in my daughter’s 4th grade class there are 24 students whose skills, ability, and understanding of a wide variety of subjects are all over the map. Some kids are reading at a high school level and performing in math at a 1st grade level. Some kids are grasping the principles of geometry while failing to grasp why cats belong in the same kingdom as dogs. One teacher is responsible for trying to get all these different kids to pass tests that assume all these kids came into her class with the same skills and ought to be learning at the same pace. That is not reality. As a parent, I have the flexibility at home to take three students from that same class and set one to working harder on math, one to practicing writing skills, and another to working ahead in every subject, but their teacher is constrained by the fact that the school district decrees that this 90 minutes everyone works on this subject, and then for another 40 minutes every student works on that subject. The kid who is sitting there picking his nose and playing with his pencil may be getting the information presented to him, but he’s not actually learning it, and if she focuses on actually making him learn it then the rest of the class is stuck sitting there waiting until it’s time to move on to something else. If the allotted time for math passes and nose picker still doesn’t understand that 10+10 ALWAYS equals 20, what can she do? Is she supposed to make 23 other students wait until he finally gets it before she moves on to teaching them how to write a proper sentence?

          • Hoosier Parent

            I have seen a number of bad teachers fired over the past 25 years. Generally they are given the choice between being fired or taking “early retirement”. When a teacher unexpectedly retires it often means they have been fired.

            In the case of a teacher who does not qualify for early retirement they are given the choice of being fired or resigning.

            So Karynb9, yes bad teachers do get fired, and are fired on a regular basis when necessary. The general public does not recognize this because the firings are labeled as “early retirement” or “resigning to take a job in the private sector”.

          • Hoosier Parent

            Sorry Karynb9. The above statement is directed towards “A parent” not you.

          • Karynb9

            No problem! I didn’t think anything of it because you appeared to be agreeing with me! :-) Yes — I also know of several poor teachers who have been forced to resign or forced into retirement (and most of them were in the union). They typically just go quietly with few people ever knowing the “real reason” why they’re no longer there. I have yet to meet a good administrator who can’t get rid of a bad teacher.

          • Proud Parent

            Your logic suggests we should have no evaluation because there is no perfect evaluation accounting for every external variable possible. How is that fair to teachers, students, and parents?

            Has the ISTA ever come to the negotiation table with a self-formulated evaluation model? I want teacher input and think THEY should drive the evaluation model and fully explain it to the public. Simply turning your nose up at every proposed evaluation model because it isn’t perfect is divisive and nonconstructive.

          • Karynb9

            First of all, teacher evaluation wasn’t a “negotiation” where the ISTA was ever invited to say anything. They were never given a seat at the table, even in a metaphorical sense. Also, teachers have ALWAYS been evaluated — an evaluation itself is nothing new. My district has used a 60+ item rubric for many years to evaluate teachers. Evaluate me on my lesson plans…my appropriate use of technology…my interactions with parents…my behavior management strategies…my effective use of class time…my collaboration and willingness to help other teachers…my knowledge of subject matter…all totally fair game. However, use standardized test scores for their intent — evaluating students.

            A very basic foundational principle of psychometrics is that a test designed for one purpose cannot be used for another. Standardized tests are designed to measure student knowledge. A test designed to be reliable and valid for measuring student knowledge CANNOT also be used to measure teacher quality. It was not designed to do so and has no measured reliability and validity for doing so.

            Additional information on the flaws of using standardized test scores for teacher evaluation can be found here if you’re legitimately interested on what many academics (not “teacher union heads”) believe: http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/15107882-452/standardized-test-scores-are-worst-way-to-evaluate-teachers.html

          • R Evans

            “A very basic foundational principle of psychometrics is that a test designed for one purpose cannot be used for another.”

            I’ve never heard of this. Please see alternative uses of the WISC and WAIS, and Guilford and Meeker’s SOI templates for the use of IQ tests to evaluate learning disorders.

            A test can be used for whatever can be accurately and precisely extracted from it. Period. Regardless of the intent of the test designer.

            That stated, I agree with your larger point, having read about problems with the “value added” testing model.

          • Warwick

            You are correct but unfortunately only the cognoscenti will see it.
            I worked on a “Value Added” system in the UK, not intended as a way of altering pay, purely for management information purposes, and anyone that is honest will tell you, Value Added is in no way suitable for use as a pay incentive scheme. Most Value Added efforts are extremely minimal but what they always reveal is that the difference between educators is dwarfed by random factors.

            I say only the cognoscenti will see it because there is an easy moronic view that goes like this “In my job my manager evaluates me all the time, in fact he treats me like crap … well surely the same great fabulous system should be applied to everyone … sure his evaluations aren’t remotely fair or helpful either … and it really does such a good job where I work, after all”. Actually for some reason they rarely add the last bit.

      • Guest

        Teaching is like working in middle management. Your job is to keep the hourly workers producing and stroke the egos of upper management without letting them screw with the people who actually work too much. Just like middle management, the job sucks because you are being judged on the performance of the people working below you, and trying to keep those folks (or kids) productive while still following the asinine policies and procedures set by people above you who probably have never actually done the job themselves. Difference is, that teachers can’t fire the kids in their class who won’t or can’t do the job, nor can they request a transfer to another department when their superior turns out to be terminally stupid. Knowing that teachers are consistently stuck between this rock and a hard place, why in the world should we throw all the blame on them when things don’t run smoothly?

    • A teacher

      Amen A parent. I am a teacher and I welcome the reform that Bennett has pushed!! I want to be held accountable for my performance. Someone needed to do something and he did it. Our failing schools are a result of a union that keeps bad teachers in positions that they should be fired from and terrible administration in positions where they continue to fail. At least there has been change at the schools that were at risk of being taken over. I cannot believe that this lady got elected. I just hope that she cannot undo what Tony has done. Principals should be held accountable and they should be able to hold teachers accountable.

      • Karynb9

        Research has shown that teacher unions in Indiana have had zero impact on the ability of schools to release poor-performing teachers. Ask Tony Bennett — he’s the one who did the research while getting his doctorate in 2005.

        • ateacher

          I will tell you in South Bend In that they sure enough do and I do not need a research project to prove it

          • A REAL Teacher

            If you’re a teacher, then you should welcome sound research. Otherwise, I struggle to think what you’re teaching your students.

        • TaxPaynPrvtschoolParent

          Studies have also shown that for 25+ years we have decreased class size, increased spending per student and measured education has still decreased. Tony was willing to try new things and augment them on the fly where things worked and not. Ritz just wants go back to the 80s/90s and stick ‘ head in the sand.

          • Karynb9

            The irony of Dr. Bennett’s “willingness to try new things” was that it left most teachers in the state feeling completely handcuffed to a test and unable to “try new things” on their own in their classrooms. Yes, we’re spending more money per student. However, we’ve also increased federal and state mandates that, in turn, require more spending. The technology requirements of educating this generation have also increased substantially (insert the education version of the “horses and bayonets” argument here) with a corresponding increase in costs. Along with decreasing class size, we’ve also substantially decreased parental involvement and responsibility in our high-poverty schools over the past 25+ years. My students spent a whole lot less time on the internet at home 25+ years ago too, that’s for sure. We are educating more students and expecting more of them than we did 25+ years ago. We’re also doing a whole lot more “measuring” of education and “measuring” based on completely different standards than we did 25+ years ago, so it’s far from an apples-to-apples comparison.

      • Teacher of Truth

        If that is the case, why didn’t you seek out accountability for your performance from your Administrators? Unions protect bad teachers? LOL! Please read Tony Bennett’s own doctoral thesis and sit back and think about what you just typed and how wrong it is.

        The effects of just cause contract language on teacher dismissals in Indiana between the years 1999–2004by Bennett, Charles A. (Tony), Ed.D., SPALDING UNIVERSITY, 2006, 123 pages; 3203629
        First, the researcher hypothesized that statistical information exists
        illustrating the negative impact of just cause contract language on
        teacher dismissal cases in Indiana from 1999–2004. Furthermore, the
        researcher hypothesized that school corporations are reluctant to move
        forward with teacher dismissals because they fear they cannot be
        successful in light of just cause contract language. Finally, the
        researcher hypothesized that school boards and administrators have
        negative feelings about just cause contract language and how it affects
        the manner in which they are able to hold teachers accountable.
        The results of the research study indicated that none of the
        aforementioned hypotheses were validated through a qualitative
        statistical analysis. School corporations have not encountered
        measurable resistance by teachers’ unions against their recommendations
        to dismiss teachers. Just cause contract language has not presented
        insurmountable hurdles for school corporations as they work to improve
        teachers’ performance and behavior. Furthermore, there was also not
        strong negative anecdotal feedback from school administrators regarding
        the impact of just cause contract language on their ability to hold
        teachers accountable. Source: http://gradworks.umi.com/32/03/3203629.html

        ROLFMAO@U. Stop repeating reform propaganda lies!

      • Chris

        I can’t believe you are a teacher and defend Tony Bennett! He has belittled all teachers to be made to feel as if they are failures! We are testing more than we are teaching and my pay has not increased in five years! I am in a poor school district and there will be little money for incentive pay. I have always been evaluated but this evaluation system is overkill! I have gotten great evaluations for 35 years. Do I really need to be evaluated every year by such rigorous methods? Where is the time for the principal to interact with children and parents when they are evaluating every teacher every year?Our school has great teachers that stay late most every night to plan and get everything ready for the next day. Then we take the rest home to finish at night. We have hope with Glenda Ritz that she understands all the work and dedication it takes to keep a classroom learning and running smoothly. I am a 2nd grade teacher and would like to know your position because it doesn’t sound like you are working in a classroom of children!

    • Odsalt

      First democrat to hold this spot since 1971.

    • Concerned Parent

      Please cite the educational research supporting your unfounded position regarding a failing system in Indiana prior to reform? Also, please state where teacher’s were not held accountable for your child’s performance prior to Bennett? You like most other pro “for profit” reformers are simply repeating propaganda with no basis in research or truth. Everyone in my child’s school district gets evaluated by their administrators on a regular cycle and have been for years, prior to Bennett’s reform measures. But instead of focusing on the Administrators and their duty, you want to attack the teachers! WHY? Did you bash teachers prior to Bush’s de-regulation measures that lead to this current recession? I suspect not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.wilkinson.777 Michael Wilkinson

    I think Tony Bennett lost because teachers made their voices heard. His
    capitalist approach to education was unfair because wealthier school
    districts were given more rewards and poorer districts were given
    punitive measures. Ultimately, this will drive more teachers to
    wealthier suburbs and poor districts will become revolving doors for new
    teachers who can’t find employment elsewhere. There’s also more to
    education than test scores. Teachers can’t bear all the responsibility
    when families don’t support or have the resources to adequately support
    students. Let’s face it, some people are better at parenting than
    others. But even hardworking, well-intentioned parents who are
    struggling to make ends meet are not going to be able to provide the
    time and energy it takes to adequately support their children to
    succeed. Our lack of good paying jobs is a primary culprit in our
    education problem. And our education problem is keeping people out of
    good paying jobs. Teachers and parents need to partner to help students
    succeed. If a teacher just sees a struggling child as an impediment to
    a bonus or job security, how is that going to help?

    • inteach

      I applaud your common sense.

  • Rocket Student

    I believe, Mrs. Ritz, that uniforms are in the way of education in IPS. Students are too worried and angered by the clothing to focus. As are some parents, it may save time in the morning, but it does not save money for big families. Please, help in taking away that distraction, and I will vote for you next term.

    • musicteacher

      You need to write the school board with this issue, Mrs. Ritz has no control over it.

  • inteach

    Don’t you love democracy?

    • Rocket Student

      Yes, yes I do. Go Ritz!

  • MGD

    Same old, same old. When are you democrats going to quit hitting your heads against a wall? Our public education system is not working and has not worked for years and years. It’s time to get out of the box and try new things. It is NOT about teachers, it is about students. They deserve for the adults to try everything they can to help them succeed. Your same old ways are not working. But you can’t see past your own paycheck. Patheic. Was Bennett’s way perfect? No. But at least he is trying to make changes.

    • Karynb9

      ” It is NOT about teachers, it is about students.” That actually sums up why almost every teacher in Indiana voted for Glenda Ritz — WE want to teach in a state that makes it all about the students, too.

    • A REAL Teacher

      You seem to have a pretty good grasp of language. I would love to meet the teachers who taught you how to read and write and ask them which person they would prefer. Because just like you as a student got a decent education, students now deserve better, and the teachers who teach them deserve to have positions of dignity.

      • First Grade Teacher

        The problem with Bennett’s approach is that it turns schools into factories that must turn out the product correctly. Teachers often don’t have the resources, parent cooperation, and administrative support they need to do all that is expected. I work very hard everyday including the weekends and weekday nights to plan, implement, search, research, etc. for my first graders. I work in a low income area where children sometimes come to school without proper clothing or food. My reading benchmarks show a lot of growth, 73% of my class are passing reading with a B or better. This is not good enough for my boss. It must be 80% or I’m not doing a “good” job teaching. ELL, ADHD, and SPED students make up 1/4 of my class. I love to teach, I love the kids, but this year I have seriously thought about finding another line of work where I would be appreciated not criticized.

  • Karynb9

    The policies and laws may not change, but the implementation of them and the assistance provided to the schools by the personnel of the DOE will certainly change. For example, the new teacher evaluation law as passed by the legislature gives some guidelines for school districts to follow in terms of percentage of evaluation based on test scores and things like that. However, the RISE evaluation system developed and pushed on schools by the DOE is an example of an over-reach that goes beyond the “guidelines” written into the law and includes standardized test scores, student learning objectives, whole-school test score accountability (an Art teacher’s pay depends on how many students in his/her building pass the math section of ISTEP), and a harsh rubric. Were school districts mandated to use RISE? No, and several in Indiana do not. However, those who looked to the DOE for guidance in following a new law with little time to develop and implement their own evaluation systems were handed RISE.

    I don’t expect Glenda Ritz to hire personnel at the DOE who have no more experience then three or four years of teaching at a charter school to lead the turnaround school effort (someone with no administrative experience whatsoever?!?). I expect Glenda Ritz and her DOE personnel to tell the truth about the “growth model” (that it is NOT possible for 100% of students to achieve “high growth” as someone at the DOE recently claimed). I expect that turnaround school operators will be seeing less “profit” at the expense of money flowing to other students in the state of Indiana. I expect the DOE to give hurting schools a hand-up and real assistance instead of a slap in the face and jabs in the media.

  • Douglas Storm

    This piece closes with the truth or rather the reality:

    As Indiana Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Brinegar summed it up for Inside Indiana Business, “virtually all the legislators who voted in favor of education reform were re-elected and the Superintendent of Public Instruction was not.”
    A “once-Republican” and former school manager, now-Democrat, will replace Indiana’s “W” of Education policy and all the policies will simply be “settled” into normalcy in the next 4 years. That is the good and polite role of the democrat in America.

  • INParent

    Tony Bennett says he was for children but his policies were abusive to children. Pushing the reforms that included curriculum that was so advanced that it set kids up to feel like failures. Schools will perform poorly if the school work alters the emotional well being of the children. So to you Tony Bennett you not only were defeated by the educators but by parents that were not going to stand by and let their children be abused by your policies. You can be an extremist but leave my kids out of it.

  • School Librarian

    I think the combination of Ritz’s win with the legislative status quo is going to be tough. It means that the momentum that drove her election cannot be allowed to diminish. Educators and their supporters have indicated that the current “school reform” trends are unacceptable. I believe that had the public truly listened and gotten involved a year and a half ago when teachers sounded the alarm, the legislature would look different on this post-election day. But the response came too late for broader change this time. So Ritz’s grass roots campaign will need to continue to grow and be a visible, loud force as Indiana moves forward with its efforts to improve education in the state.

  • Conservative Christian

    This just in….Dr. Tony Bennett wanted school’s who earned an A grade to be given a banner to hang up in their school. He also wanted failing school’s to have a similar banner shaming them with a large F on it. Lets shame them instead of help them or turn them over to the “for profit” companies. Luckily, the State Board of Education said no to the F banners. Source: video of State School Board Hearing. Thankfully we will have a State Superintendent who will support schools properly. An educator instead of a politician can’t take over soon enough! God Bless Glenda Ritz!

    • A REAL Teacher

      Thank you for allowing common sense to prevail over bipartisanship!

  • J Brewer

    Have any of you who wished to re-elect Mr. Bennett actually seen the evaluation system “he” decided needed to be put in place for all the teachers in our Indiana schools? The evaluation form required at least four or five pages, front and back, to “show” the teachers how they would be judged on their performance . Do any of you think you would want to work with an employer who arbitrarily decided he or she, could give you this large an evaluation form and tell you if you missed some item when he came by to evaluate you it would affect your pay? I am not a teacher but I have seen this evaluation form. No person in the state of Indiana would sit still for this type of evaluation especially not our state legislatures and yet we tell our teachers this is it or else.

    Are there teachers who are not doing as good a job as we would like them to do for the children of Indiana? Absolutely. But Mr. Bennett swung the pendulum of correction so far to the right that he lost his credibility with the teachers he decided were unworthy of his respect. Surely Glenda Ritz and the legislators she will be working with will realize that you doin’t have to punish the teachers doing well in their jobs in order to identify the teachers who are not achieving the standard of teacher excellence we would like to offer the children of Indiana.

    A little common sense among those making decisions affecting our children’s education would help bring a more satisfactory solution without accusing the teacher’s of only being interested in a paycheck. Everyone, including myself, depends on a paycheck so why are teachers being blamed for wanting to be paid for the jobs we want them to do. Perhaps if you would get to really know a few of the teachers in your school system you wouldn’t be so judgemental about what they contribute to your children’s education. Again, there may be those who are not as good of a teacher as we would like but at the same time you will find this is true of every workplace you might find yourself in from the local grocery store to our state legislators. I am not saying we cannot improve our schools. I am saying we don’t have to be so extreme in our methods of doing so.

    In conclusion, how many of you work as many hours as a teacher does during the work week and weekends to keep up with the work they are assigned to do for the children of Indiana? Yes, they get a few weeks off in the summer, when many find they need to work to supplement their income, but if you count up all the hours they put in during the school year they are more than due for a little respite.

    Thanks for listening.

  • kystokes

    Jumping in here to briefly remind everyone of our comments section policy. http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/tag/mailbag/
    Glad to see such an interesting discussion flourishing here!

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