Democrat Joe Hogsett, a former U.S. attorney, announced today he would run for mayor next year, and education was one of the issues on his agenda.

Republican Mayor Greg Ballard said last week he would not be seeking a third term. Hogsett is expected to be a strong candidate to replace him. If he were successful, it would return the mayor’s office to Democratic control after eight years under Ballard, who defeated Democrat Bart Peterson for the job in 2008.

During his announcement speech at the city’s Landmark for Peace Memorial in King Park, Hogsett referenced some of the city’s hottest education issues: preschool, school discipline and teacher pay.

He called for city leaders to put aside partisanship, alluding to the sometimes intense debate over Ballard’s plan for city support of preschool, which  appears headed for city-county council approval after a compromise this week followed more than a month of discord.

Hogsett hailed “city leaders who put aside the need to get a win for their own political party in order to achieve a victory for the young preschool children across Indianapolis.”

Although Hogsett has said he disagrees with Ballard’s original funding mechanism for the plan, he said he could support the idea of expanded preschool if it can be funded a different way.

More than once Hogsett brought up a need to curb the city’s dropout rate and address what he called an “expulsion epidemic” that disproportionately affects black students, especially boys.

“Tonight in too many schools in this city, a teacher will plan for tomorrow’s class weighed down by the knowledge that more of her students will dropout than go to college,” he said.

As Ballard has done with preschool, Hogsett cited education as a way of decreasing violent crime. Studies have linked decreases in dropout rates and lower crime rates.

He called for more support for teachers in the forms of better resources and higher pay. But he also hailed innovation in education, an idea pushed by reformers who favor ideas like charter schools, praising “the teacher whose innovations in her classroom take her students and school to new and uncharted heights.”