Ritz has fences to mend as she replaces Bennett
Friday, November 09, 2012 10:00 AM
Several weeks ago we warned that Tony Bennett, Indiana's superintendent of public instruction, might want to slow down his school reform program a bit.
Bennett is a driven man who has definite ideas on how to improve the performance of the state's school children. But the flaw in Bennett's approach was that he didn't give one initiative time to produce results before heaping on another reform idea.
School districts, administrators, teachers, parents - and the children - suffered from reform overload.
That's why Bennett took a drubbing in Tuesday's election. Glenda Ritz, a Democrat emerged from the shadows to stun Bennett and the school reform machine. The state's teachers were squarely in her corner.
Bennett championed the state's private school voucher system - the most aggressive in the nation. And he pushed through bills that brought limits on teachers unions' ability to negotiate contracts, swifter state takeover of failing schools, and broader grading of every elementary, middle school and high school.
Yes, we're impatient with our elected officials, but that was too much, too fast and there weren't dramatic enough improvements to support Bennett's ideas.
Ritz's win poses an interesting dynamic at the Statehouse where she will have to work with new GOP governor Mike Pence and a heavily Republican legislature.
We hope they all understand that when our children are involved, we demand that everyone work together - from the governor to the superintendent of public instruction to local school administrators to the teachers and parents.
Ritz first needs to mend the hard feelings between the state and teachers so that they can present a united front. Parents should accept no less.