News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

September 4, 2013

FLASHPOINT: A new vision for Indiana’s education system

INDIANAPOLIS — A recently published political cartoon stated that, “school reform will continue with Glenda Ritz as the new driver.” That cartoon inspired me to write this letter to the citizens of Indiana. As the new driver, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about how we will transform our education system for the benefit of students, parents, teachers and Indiana’s economy.

The vision of my administration is “Imagining the Possibilities. Making them Happen.” Our mission is “to build an education system of equity and high quality focused on student-centered accountability.”

The way we achieve both of these goals is by working together.

The Department of Education is embarking on a community approach to educating our children. No matter where children live in Indiana, they should enter schools that have equal access to resources, as well as the expectation that they will receive a high quality education. That is why I established a Division of Outreach for School Improvement within the department. Surprisingly, this has never been done in Indiana or throughout the nation.  

The dedicated educators serving as Outreach Coordinators in the nine different regions, one for each congressional district, in Indiana are residents of the communities they serve, and each will be responsible for facilitating resources to schools based on an individual school’s needs. The needs of local schools will drive the department’s legislative agenda, focus our grant-writing efforts, and determine community partnerships and supports.

As a life-long educator, I am a strong proponent of accountability that is focused on the needs of our children and is student-centered. Accountability is a community endeavor. Students must receive the support they need from caring adults, both inside and outside our school walls.

As a teacher of 34 years, I never aspired to be the Superintendent of Public Instruction, but I felt compelled to run for the position so we could work toward real transformation. I am overwhelmed with the support of the 1.3 million voters who share my vision. The voters of Indiana elected me to do what is right for their children. I take my service seriously every day, just as I did when I was in the classroom.

While we may have our differences, I have never met an educator, parent or taxpayer who did not understand the importance of education in our society. It is for that reason I want to take the time to communicate directly with you about educational issues.

Stay tuned for my views in future letters on the important topics facing our education system, our schools and our communities, not from a politician’s perspective, but from an educator’s perspective. Let the conversation continue.

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