Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

The Most Interesting Thing In The AP’s Latest Education Email Story

A logo for Republican Tony Bennett's campaign displayed on a scoreboard at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indiana GOP held its Election Night watch party. Bennett, the incumbent, is running against Democrat Glenda Ritz for the state superintendent's office.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A logo for Republican Tony Bennett's campaign displayed on a scoreboard at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indiana GOP held its Election Night watch party. Bennett, the incumbent, lost the election to Democrat Glenda Ritz.

“Appointed state superintendent.”

That’s the eighth bullet point on a draft of Tony Bennett’s nine-point 2011 legislative wish-list — part of an email string the Associated Press published over the weekend.

All of these bullet points ended up in a piece of legislation in the General Assembly. Most of these wish list items, from school choice legislation to a teacher evaluation mandate and a new textbook statute, eventually passed.

One item did not: “Appointed state superintendent.”

This might be the most interesting tidbit in this weekend’s AP story — not necessarily that Bennett and his team wanted to make the state superintendent an appointive position, but that his team discussed the possibility as early as July 2010.

That’s two years, of course, before his loss in the 2012 election to Glenda Ritz. Even during the campaign, Bennett was open about his desire to change the position.

“You’re talking to the guy who wanted this position to be an appointed position so money didn’t have to be raised,” Bennett told StateImpact in October 2012. “We had very little question that there could possibly be outside interests who would come in and make large expenditures against us. Frankly this is a campaign. This is a political race.”

The Indiana Constitution calls for the “selection” of a state superintendent, but doesn’t specify whether the state superintendent should be elected or appointed.

Lawmakers offered two bills at the start of the General Assembly’s session in 2011 that would’ve fulfilled this wish-list item. They went nowhere.

And that’s what makes this interesting. Most of the other items on Bennett’s July 2010 legislative agenda eventually became law. They’re cornerstones of Indiana’s education overhaul. Why did “appointed state superintendent” fall by the wayside?

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