Rally shows support for public education

Ritz makes unexpected visit to statehouse event


An estimated crowd of 1,200 filled the north atrium of the Indiana Statehouse Monday afternoon to show their collective support for Indiana Superintendent of the Department of Educattion Glenda Ritz and public education in general.

Ritz and Governor Mike Pence have been in odds almost since the day Ritz took office. The rally was organized by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

Currently, the state legislature is considering bills that would effectively strip Ritz of her power as well as bills that will give more money to charter schools and school vouchers and take money away from public schools. Even today, a bill is going through the statehouse that would allow the state board to handle student records, a function that currently is the responsibility of the Department of Education.

“I am here to support public education,” said Randy Worthington, a teacher from Martinsville. “I see an attack on public schools kids and we have a duty to put kids first, not politics.”

The rally included several short speeches from teachers and supporters of public education. State Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) ignited the crowd when he said. “Let your voices be heard. You own this place! You know that, don’t you?”

But the biggest roar came when Ritz entered the north atrium unannounced about 75 minutes into the two-hour rally. She walked through the atrium to a large cheer and the chants of “We stand with Ritz” before she stepped to the podium and shouted “I stand with you.”

Ritz then stood aside as an Anderson teacher finished her talk.

Ritz addressed the crowd and encouraged them to speak out for public education in the state.

“I am an educator, and I know what we need in our schools,” Ritz said.

Several Republicans were invited to speak at the rally but none of them showed. The rally was focused on showing support for public education and Ritz in particular.

Public education continues to be one of the biggest topics in the state legislature. At least 200 bills were introduced this year that affect education. Many of them deal with taking power away from Ritz and providing more money for charter schools and school vouchers. A bill was introduced just last week that says that schools that accept vouchers will be able to opt out of taking the controversial ISTEP exams.

“I’m all about the education,” Ritz said. “Let’s leave politics out of education and let our teachers focus on the business of educating our children.