(Indianapolis, Ind.) - For the first time since 1972, a Democrat has been elected as the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana.
Glenda Ritz ousted incumbent Republican Tony Bennett in Tuesday’s general election.
"We will have an educational agenda, not a political agenda," she told supporters as part of her victory speech.
Ritz credited a grassroots effort for her election as she overcame a large fundraising deficit behind Bennett.
“As I traveled across the state, it was clear that Hoosiers don’t want their tax dollars going toward the privatization of our schools,” she said. “And they don’t want their teaching and learning environments to be about teaching to the test, resulting in grading of our schools with a flawed A to F accountability model.”
Bennett and his reforms over the previous four years were largely unpopular with teachers and administrators in Indiana public education. With the backing of Governor Mitch Daniels, Bennett spearheaded a private school voucher program, intervened in struggle schools, introduced an A-F letter grade system for Indiana schools, and pushed for a change in the way teachers are evaluated.
“I have no regrets,” Bennett said in his concession speech.
Ritz’s desire to initiate changes or roll back some of Bennett’s reforms could be challenging. She will be one of few Democrat state department leaders forced to work with a Republican governor in the newly-elected Mike Pence and a state legislature dominated by the GOP.