Written by: Brandon Smith – MCCOY Board Member
This week in the general election, Glenda Ritz won a surprising victory over incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett. This came as a huge surprise given the differences in fundraising support between the two candidates. Tony Bennett was a high profile incumbent due to the extensive measures he has passed on education reform with backers across the nation, including New York Governor, Michael Bloomberg. Glenda Ritz ran a grassroots campaign that was funded almost exclusively by the Indiana State Teacher’s Association and Indiana Federation of Teachers.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on education reform, or advocate for either candidate, but what I think most people can appreciate is this: our teachers play an extremely vital role in our society. They hold the future in their hands as they mold and shape young minds. Our children need strong teachers; teachers that can instill a love and ambition to become a lifelong learner, and give kids the ability to succeed.
Being married to a teacher, I am constantly reminded of the difficulties our teachers face in the classroom: surging class sizes, students with individualized education programs that aren’t receiving the level of support and attention they need to succeed, ceilings on benefits and wage freezes, and evaluation tactics for students and teachers that lack the correct incentives.
When our teachers speak out, we should listen. What we saw in this election was a candidate that drummed up enough support, almost exclusively through word of mouth driven by the teachers in our state, to win. What that tells me is that our teachers have something to say about what is going on in their classrooms and what is needed to help our kids receive an education that puts them on a path to success. No matter which side of the table you are on, here’s to hoping that we find a way to incorporate an education system that empowers and invigorates our teachers.
MCCOY’s Own Your Future public awareness campaign is a tool that teachers can use to tell their students about educational support systems accessible outside of the classroom. Visit, www.ownyours.org to learn more.