Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Glimmer of Hope

NEIFPE member Anne Duff offers us this description of the recent visit to Fort Wayne by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz.
After Glenda Ritz beat Tony Bennett last fall for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Indiana, those of us who had been advocating for public education and had been working diligently spreading her name through mailing postcards, changing our Facebook profile pictures to her logo, and talking about her to friends, family and even strangers at the grocery store, were elated by her victory. Most people know by now that this was not only big news for Indiana, but for the country as well. Bennett had ten times the amount of money for his campaign, yet Glenda won 52% of the votes, earning more than even the governor, as often stated in the news.

But once the race was won, we didn't hear much. We didn't notice many changes, and as the legislative session began, it seemed to be a huge attack on public education. Vouchers were expanded, budgets were cut, programs were cut, and grading our schools A-F became law. Those of us who had been writing letters and talking to legislators in support of public education felt powerless as our voices had not been heard and our words written out of passion for our schools had not been read.

Last Wednesday a small glimmer of hope shined over those of us working so hard to effect change for public schools. Glenda Ritz spoke about her work as Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Future of Education conference held in Fort Wayne, IN. Her words inspired us to continue the fight even though this last legislative session made us feel as if all of our efforts had been ignored. She is working on eliminating the high-stakes, pass-fail assessments that we are currently using and working on implementing a true growth model assessment so teachers and students know how they are doing and what grade level they are working at; not just whether or not students can pass or fail a grade level test. She is coming up with a new teacher evaluation model instead of RISE that bases part of teacher evaluations on the high stakes tests. She is focusing on student centered learning instead of market-based education. She is a hero for public education. Slowly, yet deliberately and thoughtfully, she is trying to undo Tony Bennett's iniquities. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel; there is hope for public education. What is right for our children and for public education shall prevail.

See also, The worm is turning: Momentum gathers to counter school reforms

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