So many stories are circulating focused on why Tony Bennett lost his rebid for State Superintendent of Public Education in Indiana. His support for Common Core did him in. It was the power of the teachers’ unions. Over-emphasis of standardized testing alarmed parents. At the most, each story is perhaps a small piece of the puzzle. More accurately, these pieces represent the perspective of out-of-state analysts and preservationists of education reform profit schemes.
Here’s more to why Ritz won. I believe it to be more truthful than what I’ve read so far because I witnessed it firsthand. Before the narrative, a little hometown background.
Huntington County, Indiana is the conservative “hometown” to Vice-President Dan Quayle. In 2012, Bennett received 54% of the vote here, as compared to 66% four years earlier. Given a bit more time, Bennett might have become the first republican to lose a statewide election here in decades.
How did 2,000 voters in one small county switch to Ritz this year? Hard work and passionate activism. Many educators, parents, and those who knew of Bennett’s detrimental policies in this county made contacts with everyone they knew, and even approached strangers to get the word out. They worked social networks, made phone calls, sent postcards, and communicated the message by all means. By November, the message was buzzing and growing exponentially.
More importantly, why did this happen? Every article I have read to date is not only off topic, but repeatedly fails to even mention the most important factor of the election – children. The group of citizens who worked to elect Ritz in Huntington, and Ritz herself, did it because they care about all children.
And so it went from county to county as Ritz criss-crossed the state uniting all those concerned about Hoosier children. Not surprisingly, concern for children turned out to be a non-party issue.