OPINION | Indiana should take Ritz seriously

Many people might have gotten caught up in the national election results last Tuesday.

So for those who don’t know: Glenda Ritz was elected state superintendent of public instruction.

The Indiana government needs to respect that.

Ritz won over incumbent Tony Bennett, who pushed a voucher system that financed students transferring out of public schools.

Bennett also diminished protections of teachers’ rights through collective bargaining.

It is clear the people spoke with their votes last week.

Almost immediately, however, Governor-Elect Mike Pence said education reform was here to stay.

This is a bit troubling.

Ritz deliberately campaigned against Bennett’s policies.

“A lot of things were implemented that people opposed in totality, and it wasn’t always the law,” she told the Evansville Courier & Press on November 10. “Sometimes it wasn’t the implementation of the law.”

Pence announced the only change he would allow would be more reform, not less, according to National Public Radio correspondent Kyle Stokes.

This is not how the system is supposed to work.

Indiana voters decided to give the majority of their support to Republicans.

But when Ritz won the election, Hoosiers stated they favored her campaign.

For elected officials to downplay the significance of this is a threat to the principles of our system.

Education reform, as it is frequently called, usually involves holding teachers to demanding standards.

These standards are often applied without considering how they weaken students’ education or how schooling affects their entire lives.

These “big picture” plans end up funneling money out of the public system and into private schools.

But that does not benefit everyone.

Voucher programs allow some students to transfer, but they cannot accommodate every student.

Not all people can afford to provide transportation for their child or adapt to a different schedule.

If our society makes education more exclusive, we lose the pretense of important values.

Follow these ideas to their core.

If the solution to the educational system’s problem is privatization, then state support will be cut.

With the Indiana lawmakers focusing on ways to cut costs and lower deficits, education might face even leaner budgets.

That means less support for universities, too.

Hoosiers voted last Tuesday for the end of Bennett’s policies, not just a new face in office.

If the governor’s office does not respect that, it is breaking its contract with voters.

A democratically-elected government that ignores the will of the people is not democratic.

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