A grassroots campaign and a promise to reverse education reform measures put in place over the last four years made Indianapolis-area teacher Glenda Ritz the state's top educator.
Ritz, who was at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Indianapolis with other Democrats celebrating her win Tuesday night, said she was not surprised.
"We had a huge grassroots effort with parents, educators and a coalition of people working to make change for education," she said after Bennett reportedly had conceded. "This race was nonpartisan and it was a referendum on the future of education in Indiana."
Tony Bennett, a Republican running for a second term as state superintendent of public instruction, could not be reached for comment. Across the country, Bennett has been characterized as an education reformer.
However, he antagonized public school educators by implementing the A-F grade system, the takeover of Gary Roosevelt and other schools in Indianapolis, and teacher evaluations, and by supporting an increasing number of charter schools and the state voucher program, which uses public tax dollars to pay for some students' private-school tuition.
Ritz crisscrossed the state, frequently stopping in Northwest Indiana appealing to teachers.
Her mantra was that the A-F grading system has to be replaced and she would create a different test, eliminating ISTEP-Plus.
"My vision for education will focus on instruction and will not treat students as data sets," she said days prior to the election.
"In my administration, student proficiency will be evaluated by true growth-measurement tests that inform educators, parents and students of true performance levels in the areas of reading, writing and math."