Area teachers optimistic about new chief of schools

The Indiana State Teachers Association had a goal heading into last week’s election: It wanted each teacher to speak with seven people about the race for state superintendent of instruction.

The association, which has about 49,000 members throughout Indiana, had a political action committee that was contributing money to Democrat Glenda Ritz’s campaign against Republican incumbent Tony Bennett.

But ISTA representative Kim Fidler — who works with Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Greenwood and Franklin schools — said teachers knew money wouldn’t be enough to help Ritz’s campaign. They needed to talk with voters about what the race’s outcome could mean for their children’s education.

In the past four years Bennett has overseen sweeping education reforms in Indiana, including the voucher system, which provides tax dollars to low- and middle-income families so they can attend private schools, and a state-sanctioned teacher evaluation system.

Teachers throughout the state, including Beth Heavin from Center Grove Middle School North Center and Katie Hoffman from Grove Middle School Central, thought the voucher program hurts public schools by taking away thousands of dollars with every student who left. Last year, 45 Johnson County students applied and were approved for the vouchers, and this year that number jumped to 128.

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