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November 9, 2012

New state superintendent may face limit on power

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

Among them are State Sen. Carlin Yoder, a Republican from Middlebury and a former school administrator. He helped carry some of the big pieces of education legislation, including the laws that expanded charter schools, created vouchers for private schools, and tied teacher pay to student achievement.

Yoder doesn’t want any of it rolled back and doesn’t think his constituents do either: Yoder won re-election Tuesday with a more than two-to-one margin over his Democrat opponent.

But on election night, he said, he was surprised by the number of Republicans who came up to him and said: “I voted for you, but I also voted for Glenda Ritz.”

Yoder said the reasons they gave had to do with how unhappy teachers and school administrators were, feeling shut out by Bennett – a hard-charging administrator who’d become the face of education reform in Indiana.

“As we go forward, we need to make sure everybody feels included in this conversation. I think that was more the message of this election result than anything else,” Yoder said, adding: “It’s not a sign that we need to stop education reform or backtrack. We need to make sure that all our kids get a great education.”

Ritz said she too wants a great education for all Hoosier children. “I’m not out to roll back all these reforms,” said Ritz, who acknowledged she couldn’t even if she wanted to do so.

But she does think there needs to be a slow-down of some of the changes, especially some of the high-stakes testing like the third-grade reading assessment test that can impact whether a student gets promoted to the next grade.

During that slow-down period, she said, legislators need to do more listening about how the education laws are impacting local schools and local communities.

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