Glenda Ritz is the Right Leader at the Right Time

MUNCIE, Indiana – The annual Team Democrat Banquet was this past week with Sue Errington and featured speaker Glenda Ritz, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who won a huge election victory last year against the corporate reformer’s chosen pick, Tony Bennett.

In attendance were Delaware County office holders such as Sheriff Michael Scroggins, Commissioner Larry Bledsoe, and Treasurer John Dorer. Linda Gregory from City Council was also there it listen to Glenda Ritz. Ball State Young Democrats were also in attendance.

Muncie Voice has covered the education battles in Indianapolis between Glenda Ritz and Mike Pence. If you’d like to read more, you can visit here and here. The latter article was featured by Diane Ravitch, a previous U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, who publishes her own national education blog and was on CNN recently speaking about the recently released PISA test scores and eduction reform – its brief, and captures the philosophy of long time educator, Mrs. Ritz:

Who is Glenda Ritz?

The Superintendent didn’t come to share war stories between the Governor and his Center for Education and Career Innovation. This was a “who is Glenda Ritz speech” – the former Teacher of the Year; the educator; student advocate; community builder; and experienced policy maker.

She’s highly educated with two graduate degrees both in the field of education and she’s served in top policy making positions serving both Indiana and the United States. She thoroughly understands the kids and the learning process. Like Diane Ravitch, our Superintendent knows the societal issues impacting students ability to learn.

The Obstructionists

Local Muncie republican Brad Oliver, who also serves on the State board of education (SBOE) with Glenda Ritz, would like us to believe that Mrs. Ritz suffers from an “absence of leadership as chair of the state board”.

We’d like to know if Brad is offering up this opinion as a political pundit or Assistant Dean of Educational Leadership at Wesleyan college, a private evangelical Christian university in Marion, Indiana.

Governor Pence created the friction which exists today by setting up his CECI under an executive order earlier this year as a way to get around the democratically elected Glenda Ritz. The governor wants to continue the push for corporate and private religious school reforms in Indiana.

From our visit with Ms. Ritz, Mr. Oliver is embarrassing himself by deflecting the issue of his undermining Mrs. Ritz – a democratically elected official. Brad Oliver was appointed to the board to be another republican obstructionist.

Our public schools leader has a vision and leadership skills

The Superintendent knows what it takes to reach kids and create learning opportunities within a classroom. She knows how to build a community around a school with businesses and government officials. She knows about childhood development. She can reach our young adults in high school looking for career guidance or wanting to attend college. She can also work with employers to learn the skills required by the private sector and then develop the skill building programs in the classroom.

Those portraying her as “out of her element” are carrying out a political agenda. She’s very much in her comfort zone and is a strong leader from experience. Her agenda is clear in her presentation – she is an advocate for students and she can create policy to make it happen – this is why Gov. Pence created an agency to run interference.

Don’t forget, she ran a campaign from a grassroots level having no earlier campaign experience. She provided leadership by developing her vision and gathered a group around her who could build that vision across the state. As the Huffington Post stated after the election:

Bennett, the face of education reform in Indiana, had outspent his opponent by more than $1 million, with some help from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC. And Bennett is a Republican in a Republican state with a Republican governor and a Republican state legislature.

For this journo, she captured my attention when she spoke about why she ran for office. Lots of Hoosiers were upset with former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Tony Bennett’s educational reform measures backed by the Billionaires club, but Supt. Ritz told me, “I was compelled to run for office”.

Supt. Ritz saw what corporate lead reforms were doing to the classroom and communities throughout Indiana. She knew the stress it was causing teachers and students – it was disruptive and breaking down the learning environment required to “make the magic happen”.

The decision to run for the top education position within our state school was driven by purpose. She laid out a vision, developed a strategy to win by asking people to believe in her, and she claimed 1.3 million votes, over 500 thousand more votes than Mike Pence.

Sorry Brad Oliver, you’re dead wrong. Hoosiers living in Muncie would appreciate you setting aside your obstructionist agenda and work with Mrs. Ritz to carry out the public education vision voters elected her to carry out. That’s how a democracy works.

Our kids are in good hands with Supt. Glenda Ritz. Governor Mike Pence and his appointed minions, including the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) need to reverse course and stop obstructing Glenda Ritz, so she can carry out her vision for public education in Indiana which voters elected her to carry out.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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