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Ritz Visits Columbus

Glenda Ritz discussed education at the library's Red Room / Photo: White River Broadcasting
Glenda Ritz discussed education at the library's Red Room / Photo: White River Broadcasting

Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz visited Columbus Tuesday evening.

The Democrat, elected last year due to the support of teachers across the state, spoke at the Bartholomew County Library's Red Room for about an hour. The room was filled to near-capacity with many current and former educators in attendance.

Ritz's theme for the evening was literacy. Ritz noted that one thing she wants to change is the failure of the state to collect literacy data to help determine the reading level of Indiana students. She noted that Indiana's high school graduation rate stands at about 80 percent. Ritz says the 20 percent that don't graduate fail to do so because of literacy problems.

Ritz talked about how important literacy has become over the last several years. Citing literacy needs for college versus career, she noted that in years past, students needed a higher literacy rate to enter college than they did for entering the workforce. Today, Ritz says necessary literacy rates for both areas are identical.

As student data continues to grow in importance, Ritz says she wants to implement a plan that would have student data follow each Indiana student from school to school, from district to district. She says that is not how it is now. Ritz says students are often given a test to determine if they have an adequate literacy rate for the grade they are in. The superintendent also said that for too long, Indiana education has been about "pass / fail / remediation." She says the state has been trying to shoehorn students into boxes with little thought to what would be best for the individual students.

Ritz told those in attendance that state education has for too long been about "teaching to the test," meaning ISTEP and other important tests that determine school grading. The superintendent says that she is not a fan of school grading, but must do so by Indiana law. That said, Ritz says she will offer alternatives that she says better serve Hoosier school children and allow teachers to teach. "We need to trust educators to access our students," she said.

Ritz stressed that she wants equity and high quality for all Indiana students. As an example, she said that if one school has wi-fi and provides tablets to its students, all schools and students should have the same thing. If an inequity were to become known, Ritz said she would put pressure on the state legislature to address the situation.

Ritz ended the evening thanking those that supported her campaign. She also thanked teachers and administrators, past and present, for their work in educating Indiana students.

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 9:39:05 AM

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