Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Where Do Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Education Issues?

It may be more than a year away, but the 2016 race for Indiana governor is already shaping up to be an interesting contest.

Since the end of the General Assembly‘s annual legislative session just a few weeks ago, a number of candidates have declared their intentions to run. A number of veteran politicians are ramping up campaigns on both sides of the aisle.

What could the race mean for Hoosier education? Let’s take a look at the track records of those who have signed up for the big race.

Republicans

Mike Pence

Current Indiana Governor Mike Pence will run for a second term. (Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Current Indiana Governor Mike Pence will run for a second term. (Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Current Governor Mike Pence plans to formally announce his bid for re-election in June, Indiana GOP chairman Jeff Cardwell said Monday.

“Gov. Mike Pence is a conservative leader and dedicated public servant who always puts Indiana first,” Cardwell said in a statement. “He followed through on his promise to put education first this legislative session by making an historic investment in our children, teachers and schools.”

As an incumbent, Pence will be able to note a number of moves that most would agree have proven beneficial for the state, including the establishment of On My Way Pre-K, Indiana’s first state-funded preschool pilot program, and an increased focus on career and technical education. He has also been vocal on the issues of school choice and charter schools.

But, the governor will also need to defend many education-related decisions that have split voters. And he’s been a key player in the saga that is the State Board of Education, creating and later disbanding what some would call a shadow agency to the state Department of Education, the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

Earlier in the year, many had suspected Pence might make a go at the Republican bid for the presidential nomination. Now, the governor has 18 months left on the job to make his case to voters why they should extend his presence at the helm of the Hoosier state. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports that history is on Pence’s side – it’s been 40 years since an incumbent Indiana governor wasn’t elected two consecutive terms.

Democrats

John Gregg

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg speaks at a press conference on the steps of the Indiana statehouse in 2012. (Photo Credit: Brandon Smith/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg speaks at a press conference on the steps of the Indiana statehouse in 2012. (Photo Credit: Brandon Smith/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

If Gregg’s name looks familiar, that’s because it appeared on the ticket in 2012. The Democrat and former Indiana House Speaker announced his second run just a day after the conclusion of the “education session,” focusing on his desire to better the state’s economy for the future of Hoosier students.

“Especially as the president of Vincennes University, I understood how important Indiana’s reputation was in attracting good jobs to our state, so our graduates could stay here at home,” Gregg said in a video announcement.

Back in 2012, Gregg called for increased access to early education for middle-income families, proposing a preschool pilot similar to the one that began in five Indiana counties earlier this year. He was also vocal about the need to raise the high school graduation rate and make college more affordable. Whether these remain the focal points of his education agenda remains to be seen as the campaign continues.

Karen Tallian

Sen. Karen Tallian will also seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016. (Photo Credit: Gretchen Frazee/WTIU News)

Sen. Karen Tallian will also seek the Democratic nomination for governor. (Photo Credit: Gretchen Frazee/WTIU News)

The three-term Democratic senator from Portage says she wants to “speak for the progressive point of view” as the next governor of Indiana. As a member of the state senate, Tallian has served on key committees including Appropriations, of which she is the ranking minority member as well as a player on the School Funding Subcommittee.

As part of that group, Tallian spoke often on the key issue of education funding and the school funding formula this past session. She also introduced a measure that ultimately made it into the final, approved version of the two-year state budget that will count kindergarten students as full-time students for funding purposes.

Other items of legislation the Senator supported in the “education session” included Senate Bill 566, a measure to prohibit the State Board of Education from adopting any nationally-constructed standardized assessment, and Senate Bill 184, an item to limit the number of choice scholarships awarded per year to 20,000.

Glenda Ritz?

State superintendent Glenda Ritz has said she will consider a run for governor. (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

State superintendent Glenda Ritz has said she will consider a run for governor in 2016 (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

The current state superintendent has said she will consider running for governor, a decision she plans to make by the end of the school year, in June.

In her position, Ritz has a hand in all things education – and much has changed during her time in office. She’s heading the Department of Education during the transition to a new set of academic standards, a continuing rollout of new statewide tests, and a new A-F school grading system.

She is perhaps also known for the number of scuffles she and her department have had with the current governor and fellow State Board of Education members over education governance issues in Indiana.

When Ritz ran for superintendent in 2012, she called her campaign a “referendum” on the previous four years under her predecessor, Tony Bennett. She garnered a ton of support from public education advocates, winning 52 percent of the statewide vote in that race.

Prior to being elected into office, Ritz served as a school librarian for a number of years.

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