Indiana Voters Reject Common Core in Upset
A teacher who opposes Common Core Standards (CCS) defeated an incumbent who is nationally known as a proponent of CCS in the race for Indiana superintendent of public instruction. Although the incumbent Republican superintendent, Tony Bennett, spent $1.3 million and the winning candidate, Glenda Ritz, raised only $327,000, voters handed Ritz a 53% share of the vote. Some called the win a stunning upset.
Bennett is the chairman of Chiefs for Change, which is an association supporting CCS and is affiliated with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. Bennett is well known nationally and was part of the GOP statewide ticket.
Ritz works as a library media specialistÿand teacher in Indianapolis’s Washington Township. She is “a longtime registered Republican who switched party affiliation to run against Bennett, intentionally set up her own campaign headquarters and stayed away from the Democratic field offices,” according to the Southern Indiana News and Tribune (11-06-2012).
Winning candidate Ritz said of the CSS, “There was no input from parents, education groups. There was no input into the approval of the common core.” Ritz told the Huffington Post that she decided to enter the race when Indiana began a pass-fail reading test for 3rd-graders. (11-07-2012)
Parents and some teachers have started to push back in opposition to CCS in several states. Efforts to reign in CCS are underway in Idaho, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, and Georgia.
Ritz ran a grassroots campaign and was helped out by teachers union participation. Teachers unions support CCS but oppose many other reforms brought to Indiana by Tony Bennett. Although teachers unions undoubtedly wielded large influence, the Indiana race appears to be about rejecting CCS and other reforms that don’t work.
Referring to Gov. Pence who supported all the reforms brought by Tony Bennett, a commenter named “Indiana Republican” at stateimpact.npr.org (11-13-2012) said it well:
I guess Pence didn’t get the message that the people of Indiana want input into their schools and not be told what they are going to do by someone who has so much “outside money” in his pocket. Blame the teachers union all you want, but where then did the 1,000,000 crossover votes come from that weren’t in the union? From angry parents who didn’t get heard. Wake up Gov. Pence, the people of Indiana want this agenda stopped.