GARY | With four days to go before the election, Glenda Ritz, Democratic candidate for Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, was in Gary Friday telling a handful of teachers from Lake and Porter counties she's feeling positive about the election.
Ritz is challenging Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who is hoping to win a second term.
A Howey/DePauw poll conducted by Republican pollster Christine Matthews and Democratic pollster Fred Yang, shows Bennett has a 4-point lead over Ritz. The poll was conducted Oct. 28-30.
With 33 years in education, Ritz said she is a teacher and "come Nov. 6, the demonizing of teachers is going to stop; we have felt it too long under Tony Bennett."
Ritz stopped by the Gary Teachers Union office and told teachers there are clear differences between her and Bennett. She said Bennett's A-F grading system uses a complicated formula of flawed data to punish schools with the ultimate goal of taking them out of local control and putting them under a government-run system that ultimately privatizes them.
"I've had many calls from people in higher education who are also upset about the A-F system, something that may eventually be applied to them," she said.
"I'll develop an alternate assessment system for students. I'll redo the A-F grading system and I'll replace ISTEP, which is a pass/fail system," she said. "I'd never put a label on schools. That affects our economy, businesses and people who are interested in moving into a community."
Ritz pledged to have outreach coordinators who would work with schools to address the challenges that are identified.
If elected, Ritz said she expects lawyers to be camped at her doorstep because there are "myriad" things to undo.
While in Gary, Ritz also put in a good word for Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg, saying the governor's role is critical because the governor appoints members to the state board of education.