News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 29, 2012

Indiana race could be showdown over school changes

By CHARLES WILSON
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The campaign to lead Indiana’s education department is being watched as a referendum on school policies pushed by conservatives across the country.

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett is seeking a second term. He’s opposed by Democrat Glenda Ritz, who is a suburban Indianapolis teachers union leader.

Bennett has earned a national reputation for implementing widespread changes like private school vouchers and merit pay for teachers.

But he is under siege by teachers who feel they’re being unfairly blamed for declining school performance. Ritz argues Bennett’s agenda is a thinly veiled attempt to privatize public education.

Bennett’s campaign has a heavy advantage in funding.

National education experts say the election results will show whether the public supports Bennett’s policies, which are being copied around the country.