Against the crazy national political news, here’s an encouraging development in Indiana: Jennifer McCormick, the newly elected superintendent of public instruction, has picked a solid group of education professionals to help with her transition to office.
The team includes school administrators, policy experts, leaders of education organizations and others who are familiar with education issues in the state. Notably absent are the conservative ideologues and school-choice advocates who have been prominent in state school politics.
“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 said in a news release.
Here are just a few of the 17 members:
- Dennis Costerison, longtime executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials and the state’s go-to expert on school funding.
- Jeff Butts, president-elect of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, superintendent of Wayne Township schools and an outspoken advocate for public schools.
- Hardy Murphy, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association, a former Illinois school superintendent and co-director of the INTASS teacher evaluation and support program.
- Terry Spradlin, who handled legislative affairs for former Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen Reed and later helped lead the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University.
McCormick, a Republican, defeated incumbent Superintendent Glenda Ritz in the Nov. 8 election, an outcome that may have been more a result of the state GOP sweep than a rejection of Ritz. She ran an aggressive campaign, focusing on schools and students and promising to leave politics behind. But her campaign had a lot of financial support from partisans; it received $130,000 in contributions from Hoosiers for Quality Education, which advocates for vouchers and charter schools.
Those folks may have McCormick’s ear after she takes office Jan. 9, and she will face Republican legislative super-majorities with their own agendas. But the make-up of the transition team suggests she is serious about supporting public education. It’s a good start.