State Superintendant of Public Instruction: Glenda Ritz, a Democrat from Carmel, is challenging incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, a Republican. The candidates disagree sharply about the degree to which standardized test scores should drive educational policy. The Bennett-directed state takeovers of Indy's "failing" schools center on letter grades based in large part by testing metrics. He is campaigning on efforts to continue improving student achievement. Ritz decries the legacy of teach-to-the-test mentality and advocates greater local control of schools. Both candidates have classroom experience. Ritz cites 33 as a teacher while Bennett spent 10 years teaching science before moving into school administration.
Local school boards: Responsible, in-depth coverage of these races would require the doubling of size of this guide, a luxury disallowed by the rigid ratio of advertising-to-editorial content that governs those print publications scrappy enough to still be in business. We may not like it, but this is the fiscal reality we live in. Still, we can direct you to a couple resources that may assist you in making educated decisions about the people who will be guiding the largest consumers of local tax dollars, our city's public schools, which, as charter models expand, increasingly include more out-of-state interests.
On this note, stalwart grassroots education activist John Harris Loflin noted in a recent dispatch that out-of-state campaign contributions have enriched reform-oriented candidates. That being said, Indianapolis columnist Mathew Tully, who has authored Searching for Hope, a book about life at local "failing" school, took a strong stance for reform:
"For those hoping for change, it's simple: Elect newcomers Hannon, retired IU Health CEO Sam Odle and teacher Gayle Cosby, as well as veteran board member Diane Arnold, who is running unopposed," Tully wrote.
Local public broadcaster WFYI has archived a debate of local school board candidates at http://tinyurl.com/IPSdebate2012.
Candidates, along with any interested member of the public may submit an op-ed of up to 1,000 words on the educational landscape in the Circle City and Indiana at large. Direct submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.