Indiana’s next state superintendent Jennifer McCormick today announced the team of 17 educators and policymakers who will help her prepare to take office in early January — and not one of them is a major player in Indiana’s charter school or voucher scene.
That matters because for much of McCormick’s campaign, critics charged that she would be no different from her Republican predecessors who pushed sweeping changes in the state, shifting resources away from traditional district schools toward charter schools and vouchers for private school tuition.
McCormick insisted throughout her campaign that she’s not like Tony Bennett, the controversial former Republican superintendent, but those claims were largely dismissed by the state’s staunchest advocates for traditional public schools.
Perhaps until now.
“I am excited and honored to work with such a dynamic and diverse group,” McCormick, said in a statement as she announced her transition team. “The team’s commitment to Hoosier students will drive critical decision-making which will ultimately impact Indiana’s education system and ensure Indiana has one of the best Departments of Education in the nation.”
McCormick’s team includes one Republican lawmaker, several public school administrators, two university professors and a testing expert. Also on the list are community and business leaders as well as educators who work in preschools and with special needs children, among others.
The Institute for Quality Education, a school choice advocacy group that strongly backed McCormick’s campaign, will not have any direct representation on the team.
McCormick’s victory over incumbent Democrat Glenda Ritz was a surprise to many on Election Night. The Yorktown superintendent’s campaign focused on her strengths as an educator and leader following a decades-long career as teacher, principal and administrator.
But she has offered few insights about how she will govern, especially since her policy positions are fairly moderate.
While she’s likely to get along better with Republican lawmakers than Ritz, who spent much of the last four years clashing with the GOP, she’s expressed concerns about some major Republican-led initiatives over the past few years, most notably taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools that divert money from public schools.
The transition team is her first major act as superintendent-elect, offering Hoosiers their first look at her most important priorities.
Notably missing from the list is anyone from Indianapolis Public Schools — a detail that one school advocate called “unfortunate.”
“What Indianapolis has done is a national model, and so not to have that represented on the transition team seems like an omission,” said David Harris, CEO of The Mind Trust, a pro-charter school Indianapolis-based nonprofit. “IPS right now is also not just at the forefront of the state, but really at the forefront nationally in its work to create innovation network schools, and districts around Indiana would benefit from that perspective.”
Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, said she had been looking forward to seeing who McCormick would pick to assist her since the two talked last week.
“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, this is a really mixed bag of people,’” Meredith said. “I’m glad that she is being really thoughtful in her selections.”
Here’s the full team:
- Brad Balch: Professor and Dean Emeritus, Indiana State University, Department of Educational Leadership
- Todd Bess: Executive Director, Indiana Association of School Principals
- Wes Bruce: Education and assessment consultant who has spent many years with the Indiana Department of Education
- Jeff Butts: President-Elect, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, current superintendent of Wayne Township.
- Rep. Tony Cook: State Representative, Indiana House of Representatives – District 32, vice chairman of the House Education Committee
- Denny Costerison: Executive Director, Indiana Association of School Business Officials
- Scot Croner: Superintendent, Blackford County Schools
- Steve Edwards (Transition Team Chair): Retired Superintendent and Education Consultant, Administrator Assistance
- Nancy Holsapple: Executive Director, Old National Trail Special Services Inter-Local
- David Holt: Chief Financial Officer, MSD Warren Township
- Lee Ann Kwiatkowski: Member, State Board of Education, assistant superintendent of Warren Township
- Micah Maxwell: Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Muncie
- Hardy Murphy: Executive Director, Indiana Urban Schools Association and Clinical Professor of Education, IUPUI, IU School of Education
- Kathryn Raasch: Principal, Wayne Township Preschool
- Terry Spradlin: Director of Community and Governmental Relations, Education Networks of America
- Lisa Tanselle: General Counsel, Indiana School Boards Association
- Kelly Wittman: Executive Principal, Max S. Hayes Career & Technical High School, a public school in Cleveland, Ohio.