State schools chief: Districts shouldn’t have to woo voters for improvements
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 May 8, 2013 4:36PM
Updated: June 10, 2013 2:16PM
VALPARAISO — School districts shouldn’t be forced to woo taxpayers with political campaigns to improve schools, the state’s top education official said Wednesday.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz made the comments the day after voters in seven Hoosier districts voted on measures to raise taxes for their local schools. The referendums were approved in five of the seven, with passage failing by four votes in Boone Township where the district needed money to shore up its general fund. Now, the district in Hebron is facing teacher layoffs.
“It’s a sad state when we have to run full campaigns to run our schools,” said Ritz, the lone Democratic state official.
Her comments came after a wide-ranging question and answer session with a group of students at the Porter County Career Center.
Locally, general fund referendums were approved Tuesday in the School Town of Munster and the Union Township School Corp. in Porter County.
Speaking about last week’s testing company computer problems that halted online ISTEP+ testing for two days, Ritz said there won’t be a return to paper and pencil tests because the online testing is much cheaper.
She said Indiana has the most students in the nation taking online assessments. All students in grades 3-8 are tested. “That’s a big number on the test at the same time.”
She said some scores might be invalidated because of the online interruptions.
Ritz told the students the reason she ran for office is because of her ardent opposition to the third grade I-READ test which began last year. Student who don’t pass it can be retained a grade.
Ritz wants to dump the test. “A test has never taught anybody to read. It went against everything I believed in as a reading teacher. That got me into the race.”
Ritz upset Republican Tony Bennett, the lone GOP statewide candidate to lose last year.
Ritz also visited the Hammond Area Career Center and met with officials at Valparaiso University.