VALPARAISO | Some 200 teachers, candidates, party organizers, union members and residents gathered Saturday at the Porter County Courthouse to show their solidarity and support for Democrats seeking election.
Even though the air was chilly, the reception was warm and talk was feisty. As they waved their campaign signs and donned campaign buttons, members of the crowd cheered on speakers.
One of those speakers was Glenda Ritz, Democratic nominee for state superintendent of public instruction.
“I got into this race because of high-stakes testing. Indiana has a pass/fail test, and that doesn’t tell anything about the performance of our students," said Ritz, a Golden Apple Award-winning teacher.
"Tony Bennett is making it his business, all by himself, to grade our communities," she said. "We need a test that is a true measure of growth.”
One of those in the audience was Kim Werner, a teacher in the South Central Community School Corp.
“I came to support Glenda Ritz. It’s important that we have a teacher in the position of state superintendent because she has been in the trenches and seen what teachers go through,” Werner said.
Teacher Melissa Ofman, of Central Elementary School in Portage, came to the rally with her two children.
“It’s important to be here and for my kids, to know what mom does and be a part of the democratic process,” she said.
Ritz also spoke out against school vouchers, charter schools and allowing the unlicensed and unqualified to teach. She voiced support for vocational and technical career programs and called for fully funded full-day kindergarten.
Other dignitaries spoke in support of Ritz and the Democratic slate of candidates, including Jill Donnelly, wife of U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly; Nancy Papas, of the Indiana State Teachers Association; and Vi Simpson, state senator from District 40 and candidate for lieutenant governor.
“We all want the same thing, and it doesn’t matter if you’re from Valparaiso or Gary or Bloomington — we want a good-paying job that supports the family, good schools so our children have opportunities in life, and communities where our grandchildren have a future,” Simpson said.