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Endorsements: Another term for schools chief Ritz

South Bend Tribune, 11/4/16

Ritz says that, if re-elected, the work she does will continue “regardless of who the governor is.” But she deserves a shot at moving Hoosier education forward in a functional collaboration with the state’s chief executive. We think that would happen, no matter who wins the race for governor. The Tribune Editorial Board endorses Glenda Ritz.

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“We are healing.” Superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to News 10 about spike in new teacher licenses

News 10, 11/1/16

“We had seen a sharp decline in the number of initial licenses we’ve been issuing at the state level,” said Glenda Ritz, during an interview with News 10.

As Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ritz is familiar with the disappointing numbers. Last school year the department of education issued around 3,800 licenses. She says that’s the lowest it’s been in the last six years. “The teacher shortage is actually real in the state of Indiana.”

New numbers reveal a sharp turnaround. The state is reporting a more than 18 percent increase in the number of license recipients from 2015 to 2016.

“We’re starting the healing process of what happened with legislation back in 2012, but we have a lot of work to do, and I look forward to bringing several things to the legislature in this session,” said Ritz.

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Our choice: State schools superintendent

Evansville Courier and Press, 11/1/16

For 16 years, from 1992 to 2008, Hoosiers saw what happened when a state superintendent (Suellen Reed, a Republican) was able to work with politicians in both major parties. Reed dealt with Democratic governors Evan Bayh, Frank O’Bannon and Joe Kernan, as well as Republican Mitch Daniels, without much controversy. She pushed for full-day kindergarten, guided the state through the changes required by No Child Left Behind and helped institute the more rigorous Core 40 standards in high school curriculum.

In short, Reed’s tenure was an example of getting the job done, regardless of party affiliation.

Those days are long gone, and that can be traced to the day Tony Bennett was elected as Reed’s replacement in 2008.

Bennett and Daniels, with the help of Republican lawmakers, spent four years pushing through school reforms such as creating one of the country's largest voucher programs, tying teachers' pay to student performance, limiting teacher union contract negotiations to wages and benefits, grading schools on an A-F scale, and expanding charter schools.

Glenda Ritz defeated Bennett in 2012 via a grassroots campaign fueled largely by Indiana teachers. In the course of four years, a position that had long been an afterthought on the state ballot – mainly because of the peaceful manner in which the job was performed – was suddenly a spotlight race.

The working relationship between Ritz and current Gov. Mike Pence has not been pleasant. Pence launched his own education agency. Ritz sued the Indiana State Board of Education for meeting “in secret” without her. The Indiana Legislature has voted to toss the ISTEP-Plus exam, but a 23-member committee charged with replacing it is woefully behind in its work.

And word came this fall that Indiana ranks among the lowest states for teacher recruitment and retention, as worries over standardized testing, low pay and large class sizes drive people out of the profession, and keep them from becoming educators in the first place.

Which gets us to where we are today: A Republican-controlled Legislature still firmly entrenched in Indiana, Pence gone in a quest to become vice president, the governor’s race far from decided and Indiana students and educators left to wonder what’s next.

We’ve come to a day when we no longer feel the superintendent of public instruction should not be an appointed position. In fact, we find Ritz’s presence serves as a Democratic check in a largely Republican state government. Ritz hasn’t been perfect in her performance – there have been complaints about communication from the department, for instance. And her tendency to blame every department shortcoming on interference from a nefarious state government have made us worry that she’s using politics to mask her own inadequacies. But still, we feel she remains the best choice to lead Indiana schools.

Why? Her advocacy for educators. In a time when state-level changes have driven so many teachers from the field, those left behind should feel like they have someone looking out for their interests.

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Hoosiers should choose Ritz once again

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 10/21/16

In a year that saw sweeping Republican victories in Indiana, more than 1.3 million Hoosiers chose Democrat Glenda Ritz for state superintendent. No clearer repudiation of the state’s direction in education policy – school choice, high-stakes testing, Common Core, punitive school letter grades – could be found than in the resounding 2012 defeat of Superintendent Tony Bennett, the face of so-called education reform.

But newly elected Gov. Mike Pence, the GOP-controlled General Assembly and deep-pocketed reform supporters did not get the message. They immediately set to work to diminish Ritz’s authority – at one point establishing a shadow education agency to undermine her work. The state superintendent has spent much of the past four years battling their obstructive efforts, but she delivered on her pledge to challenge the direction Indiana’s public schools were being taken. Today, Ritz remains the best candidate to prevent development of a two-tier system: private schools allowed to choose their own students and public schools left with fewer resources to serve everyone else. She’s best positioned to finally move to a student-centered testing system and to serve as a check on a voucher program with few safeguards.

To ensure the votes they cast in 2012 continue to protect Indiana’s public schools and place students first, Hoosiers should choose Ritz once again.

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Ritz And The Department Of Education Propose New Testing System

WFYI, 10-12-16

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Department of Education issued a proposal for Indiana’s new testing system. The plan is just one design the ISTEP committee could consider sugesting to the 2017 General Assembly next legislative session.

The 2016 General Assembly passed a law getting rid of ISTEP last spring, and it also created the ISTEP committee to recommendation a new plan by Dec. 1. At this point, the panel doesn’t look likely to independently meet this goal.

Without a concrete plan forming in the committee, the DOE is suggesting this one and says it would reduce overall testing by eight hours and save the state around $12 million. Here are some details of their plan:

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myON and Indiana Department of Education Partner to Improve Migrant Students’ Reading and Writing Skills

District Administration, 10-12-16

“The Indiana Department of Education is committed to ensuring that all students have access to the resources they need to learn and achieve both in the classroom and in life,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Through our partnership with myON, migrant students are receiving high-quality support to maintain and often increase their literacy levels. I am proud of the work we have done over the past few years to educate these students, and I look forward to a continued partnership with myON to ensure all Hoosier students are on track to succeed.”

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A Common Core exam or another year of ISTEP? Lawmakers weigh unpopular options

Chalkbeat, 10/11/16

After months of indecision, members of the panel now say the ISTEP may be sticking around a little longer than expected. “I don’t see any alternative,” Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, chairman of the Senate Education Committee said at the panel meeting Tuesday. “That’ll probably be a bill that’s in the legislature this next session.” He joins Rep. Bob Behning, who heads the House Education Committee and initially championed the “repeal ISTEP” bill, who said earlier this summer that ISTEP might continue longer than expected.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, meanwhile, is one of the few panel members proposing a complete plan that isn’t just an ISTEP-clone — at least not in the long term. Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education released details of a proposal for a “computer-adaptive” test that gives students easier or harder questions depending on whether they answer right or wrong.

The department said this approach would reduce Indiana testing time by about eight hours and reduce costs by at least $12 million just by removing existing tests. A complete cost estimate is not yet available, so it’s hard to tell if the overall testing budget would decrease or by how much. Lawmakers set aside about $77 million for testing and remediation in the last two-year budget.

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Superintendent candidates vary on vouchers, pre-K

Chicago Tribune, 10-8-16

Under her leadership 193 low-performing schools — serving more than 108,000 students — have transformed into high-performing schools through DOE assistance. Ritz said the department's Division of Outreach links coordinators with principals to break down barriers and provide resources to succeed.

"I promised a presence in schools, and I'm extremely pleased that we have 193 schools that have become high-performing schools," Ritz said. "We're breaking down barriers in schools and providing wraparound schools for kids."

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Push for prekindergarten gains steam

IndyStar, 10-5-16

A panel of state lawmakers on Wednesday recommended Indiana expand publicly funded prekindergarten, an investment that a new study says would provide a $4 return for every dollar the state infuses into the program.

The Republican-led panel didn’t say precisely how broad the expansion should be but appeared to want to keep the focus on low-income children.

There is little doubt that the next governor and legislature will push in 2017 for an expansion of the state’s current $10 million-per-year pilot program. Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Republican candidate for governor, and John Gregg, the Democratic candidate, have included a prekindergarten expansion in their education plans. But the two men are promoting vastly different approaches.

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School improvement data released

Indiana Daily Student, 9-27-16

The Indiana Department of Education’s Outreach Division of School Improvement released updated data Tuesday defending its claim that there’s been an improvement to the education of more than 108,000 Hoosier students.

Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, released the updated data, which shows, since the creation of the Outreach Division, 193 schools have exited focus or priority status, according to the release.

“When I took office, one of my top priorities was to make sure the Department of Education delivered high-quality direct service to public schools,” Ritz said in the release. “I created our Outreach Division to do this work and to provide support and resources to all schools so that every student has access to a high-quality education. I am incredibly proud of its work and the work of dedicated school leaders and educators across the state.”

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Ritz Opponent Makes Announcement at Tony Bennett HQ

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Today, Dr. McCormick made her partisan announcement at the location of Tony Bennett’s organization, the Institute for Quality Education, where it has been reported that he serves as senior advisor and consultant. In response, the campaign for Superintendent Glenda Ritz released the following statement:

“It’s nice to see that Dr. McCormick has finally made a policy announcement with less than seven weeks to go before Election Day,” said Annie Mansfield, Campaign Manager. “Meanwhile, Superintendent Ritz has spent years working to get rid of ISTEP and offer high-quality Pre-K to every parent and student who wants it. She is focused on an education agenda, not a political agenda.”

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Ritz Names 'Family Friendly Schools'

Inside Indiana Business, 9-19-16

More than 40 schools from throughout the state have been named 2016-2017 Family Friendly Schools. The Indiana Department of Education says the schools were chosen "based on their commitment to addressing the needs of Hoosier students while fostering the active involvement of families and the community."

The IDOE says in order to earn the recognition, schools must demonstrate a commitment to involving families and community members in student education and addressing the academic, physical, emotional and social needs of their students. Sixteen schools received the designation last year, the first year of the program.

"When families are engaged, students succeed," said Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. "As an educator for more than 30 years, I have seen firsthand the impact that families can have on a child’s education. That is why I am honored to recognize (these) schools for their dedication to their students, families and communities in providing a welcoming and supportive environment for a high-quality education."

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Closer look at school bullying

Pal-Item, 9-18-16

During a recent Richmond visit, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz acknowledged bullying is a concern for Indiana schools.

She said it will take a little while to get the data to the point where it has the "right kind of meaning."

"It's all self-reported data, so to me, no matter what the data says, we need to have anti-bullying programs," Ritz said. "We just need to be sure all of our schools have safe environments. The data is there for some transparency, I suppose, but my whole emphasis is not really on the data so much as it is on the actual safety and security of the kids in the school."

"Not only are we working through the data that actually needs to be reported, but we want to put into place positive behavior systems within our schools so we have a positive approach to working with children as opposed to the negative approach in working with discipline," Ritz said.

Ritz said discipline is a focus of her Imagine 2020 plan that includes accomplishments in the past four years and her goals for education in the next four years.

"We have disparity amongst groups of students when it comes to discipline, and we have to address that," Ritz said. "I think our goal is to be sure we're keeping kids in school and that they have a safe and secure place when they are at school."

Ritz noted school safety goes beyond bullying, but she said sessions on the topic always are offered at the Indiana School Safety Academy, which trains school safety officers and administrators. Those who've been trained return home to train teachers in their schools.

"We make sure a lot of good practices are out there, and we'll continue to do that," Ritz said.

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Study: Indiana ranks low for teacher recruitment, retention

IBJ, 9-16-16

Indiana scored a 2.17 out of a possible 5 points of educator data, including work conditions and teacher compensation. Only Arizona, Texas, Colorado and Washington, D.C., received lower scores, The Indianapolis Star reported.

"The fact remains we across the state are struggling to recruit teachers into the profession and make sure spots are filled when the school year begins," said Jeff Butts, superintendent of Wayne Township Schools. "We made teaching not very attractive to go into as a profession."

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz created a 49-member commission last year to develop strategies to attract more teachers into Indiana classrooms. The group's proposals, which included reducing the influence of test scores on the yearly teacher evaluations, died this past legislative session.

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Ritz visits Richmond to tout education plan

Pal-Item, 6-8-16

Richmond Mayor Dave Snow said he was glad to chat with Ritz as they toured the city, showing her landmarks such as Veterans Memorial Park, the Starr-Gennett plaza, downtown, the Historic Depot District and the Wayne County Historical Museum.

He said he was excited about their conversation on boosting workforce development and increasing soft-skills training in schools.

“It’s something really important to me and important to this city, and I’m glad it’s something that’s a priority for her,” Snow said.

Paul Kriese, Indiana University East professor emeritus of political science, looked forward to chatting with Ritz.

“We haven’t done well by our students with this governor who doesn’t seem to understand the importance of education and the importance of the superintendent,” Kriese said. “He’s consistently taken power away from her.”

Kriese said that’s likely because of Ritz being from a different party than the governor.

“She’s a teacher, for heaven’s sakes,” Kriese said. “She knows what she’s doing.”

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Ritz: State, communities must work together to help schools

Madison Herald, 9-1-16

Indiana’s superintendent of schools Glenda Ritz was in Madison on Wednesday to talk about the positive things happening in the state’s public school system.

One of the foundations of her tenure so far has been spending two or three days a week traveling to communities throughout the state to meet with teachers, students and residents to discuss what her office can do to help at the local level.

“I have a different philosophy than some others at the statehouse,” she said, explaining that many seem to believe state government is at a higher level than local government and that the two don’t mix.

“That is not my philosophy, and it never has been. I believe in a real grassroots support system,” she said.

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Ed Dept. Calls For Background Checks, Trainings To Identify Sexual Predators

Indiana Public Media, 8-30-16

The Indiana Department of Education wants schools to background check all staff, including volunteers and coaches, in hopes of addressing growing concerns over sexual misconduct in Indiana schools.

“The Department is expanding the services it provides to local schools and law enforcements,” said state superintendent Glenda Ritz, in a statement. “We will be working with the Legislature to strengthen Indiana’s law in the upcoming legislative session.”

The department’s plan wouldn’t require background checks for people beyond licensed educators, but it would provide a discounted rate for schools to get services from certain background check providers. The department says this would encourage schools to screen other adults that come in contact with children, too.

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The Indiana State FOP “Overwhelmingly Voted” to Endorse Superintendent Glenda Ritz

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

“Seldom do we find a candidate of your caliber who has the leadership and integrity to carry out the duties as Superintendent of Public Instruction,” they wrote. “Your support and commitment to Indiana Law Enforcement has not gone unnoticed.” The Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police represents over 14,000 members statewide.

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Muncie school district scrambles for teachers in new year

Associated Press, 8-26-16

Superintendents say more teachers have moved districts over the summer, more teachers are resigning within days of the start of school and there's a smaller pool of applicants. "There is such a shortage right now with teachers around the state, what happens is a lot of veteran teachers now are shopping around," said Scot Croner, superintendent of Blackford County Schools. "It's more advantageous to jump to a different district."

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Glenda Ritz talks campaign, McCormick while in Blackford County

Muncie Star Press, 8-25-16

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said she is going into this year's election with the same grassroots approach as four years ago, although this time she's no longer an unexpected candidate.

Ritz sat down with The Star Press on Thursday during a visit to Blackford County Schools' Northside Elementary. She was there to recognize the school for earning one of the state's "Promising Practice" awards, but also talked about campaigning against local superintendent of Yorktown Community Schools, Jennifer McCormick.

During a campaign event in Yorktown in March, and a few times since, McCormick said the Indiana Department of Education lacks leadership and vision.

Ritz pointed out that she reorganized the department to include regional coordinators, hired from their designated area, whose job is to "make sure (principals) get the support they need."

"That’s a pretty heavy lift," she said. "I started that, I want to continue those efforts and expand outreach each year."

Earlier this month the Indiana State Teachers Association's report said that 90 percent of McCormick's recent campaign funding came from donors who also supported State Superintendent Tony Bennett.

When asked for her response, Ritz said: "I don’t feel the voters want to go back to the Tony Bennett days. I feel like they’ve already spoke their minds in the 2012 election and they want to see my work go forward."

Ritz listed her major focus areas as getting rid of ISTEP for a test that measures student growth, establishing a universal preschool program and improving students' career preparation.

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Help Wanted: Teacher-Shortage Hot Spots

Ed Week, 8-22-16

Current Status: Since 2011, Indiana has seen a 32 percent decline in the number of individuals receiving first-time licenses—instructional, administrative, or in support services—from the state department of education. That drop, coupled with a dip in enrollment at schools of education, has reportedly created teacher shortages in certain parts of the state, although the department does not track teacher job vacancies.

Recruitment Strategies: In April, Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill to establish a scholarship fund for college students who commit to teaching in Indiana for at least five years after graduation.
That was the primary bill related to teacher recruitment last legislative session, despite the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission made up of 49 state officeholders and educators who studied the shortage. The commission had advised establishing a state-funded mentoring program, setting local compensation scales, and reducing the number of standardized tests in favor of teacher-constructed assessments.

The education department has made its own efforts to recruit and retain teachers, including creating a full-time position at the department to support educators and establishing the Indiana Center on Teaching Quality at Indiana University. The center, underwritten by a federal grant, will provide support to special education teachers.

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Glenda Ritz seeks $1,000 tax break for public school families

IndyStar, 8-16-16

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz wants lawmakers to approve a $1,000 tax deduction in the new state budget to help families cover textbook costs and other education-related expenses.

Ritz announced her spending priorities Tuesday, months before lawmakers begin negotiating the two-year state budget that the General Assembly will pass in 2017. She renewed her call for the state to provide textbook assistance for public school families — an idea the Republican-controlled legislature has declined to support.

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When It Comes To Free Textbooks, Indiana Is The Exception

Indiana Public Media, Sept 24, 2014

At the beginning of each school year, families in Indiana’s public schools are hit with bills that include activity fees, class fees and the largest line item- textbook fees. Textbook rental fees cost parents on average about $100 per child.

Frustrating to most parents is the knowledge that Indiana is one of only eight states that charge for textbooks.

"Our textbook fee bills arrived last week in the mail, one per student, and the grand total was over $1,000 for all five of the girls,” Chatterton said. “The higher the grade level, the higher the bill.”

That’s on top of other school fees so her kids can be in band and play on the soccer team as well as the $300 she spent on school supplies. And because of these high fees, the Chatterton’s large family has to make sacrifices to pay for everyone’s fees.

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State superintendent candidates want to kill ISTEP but differ on what should come next

Chalkbeat, 8/9/16

In contrast to the current ISTEP model in which students essentially either pass or fail, Ritz’s dream test would be given in parts throughout the year, culminating in a single score that could be used for state accountability. Breaking the test up, she says, makes the results less about punishing students and schools who score poorly and more about giving teachers useful information that they could use to help kids.
“I want to know where children actually do perform and how they grow over time instead of using the pass-fail approach that we’ve been using that does not inform teaching and learning,” Ritz said.