The race for Indiana's top educator is oddly contentious 

click to enlarge C.K. Denney is a 5th grade student in Indianapolis. - MARK A. LEE
  • C.K. Denney is a 5th grade student in Indianapolis.
  • Mark A. Lee

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Democrat incumbent Glenda Ritz and Republican challenger Jennifer McCormick want the same things, with a few varying ideas of how to get there. Both would like to see pre-kindergarten education available to every Hoosier family that wants it. Ritz would like it sooner than later while McCormick would like to make sure it doesn't overburden school districts too soon.

And both would like to see less time spent on standardized testing and more time for students in the classroom learning. Both have proposals for that standardized testing to take less than 1 percent of total classroom time per year. Ritz has proposed the elimination of the IREAD-3 — a reading assessment administered in the third grade — to allow reading assessments incorporated into other comprehensive and shorter tests. McCormick admitted she supported dumping the IREAD-3 if reading assessments were done in other tests.

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So if the two candidates agree so much on the direction of education in Indiana, where do they differ?

Politics.

McCormick has called Ritz's leadership into question throughout the election season based on the ongoing conflicts Ritz has had with the Pence administration. That conflict began when Ritz defeated former Superintendent Tony Bennett, preventing a Republican state office sweep from accompanying the supermajority in the General Assembly.

McCormick has beaten the drum stating she is an educator, not a politician to try and draw distinction between herself and her opponent. Ritz has worked this campaign to remind voters that she also started out as an educator running for office to effect change and was thrust into "politics" to defend her office by the opposing party.

If you take the politics away, both women stand for the same goals with only slightly different versions of how to achieve them. It's the politics of this election cycle that creates the harsh divide between these two candidates.


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Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns

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Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.

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