Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody also attended the event at the Monroe County Democratic Party offices in Bloomington to support Brodhacker.
Teachers and Democratic Party supporters attended the event to talk about issues in Indiana public education. Tara Deppert, a German teacher in Bedford, said she came to learn about policy and to meet Ritz .
“I wanted to hear what’s happening at the state level and on a personal level,” Deppert said. “You can read articles and see it on the news, but it’s different when you get to have more personal contact.”
The roundtable discussion included a question from Deppert, who asked Ritz and the room for ideas on keeping people aware of policy problems facing local schools without damaging popular trust in public education .
“Everything that happens at the state level affects us as teachers,” she said .
Ritz said she usually spends two to three days each week visiting Indiana schools and has been in 80 of 92 counties since being elected in 2012 .
Along the way, she has also attended rallies for political candidates who support her ideas about public education .
More than a dozen former educators are running for state office this year, Ritz said . She says she’s endorsed all of them .
Ritz said she wants more public education supporters in the statehouse to bolster support for the Indiana Department of Education, which she oversees .
The Center for Education and Career Innovation , created by Gov. Mike Pence in 2013 , took on some of the Department of Education’s budget and responsibilities, including overseeing the State Board of Education .
CECI was created to coordinate spending on education and workforce training in Indiana . In addition to the SBOE, the center collaborates with the state Career Council and Regional Work Councils and the Education ?Roundtable .
Supporters appreciate the center coordinates resources across several agencies .
When the center was first created, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, issued a statement saying CECI would help Indiana focus its resources .
“By enabling the state to align K-12, higher education and our workforce development resources, we will be better equipped to develop the skill sets Hoosier students need to thrive in tomorrow’s economy,” Bosma said in a press release .
Ritz said she is worried not only that the center will get more funding in the coming legislative session, which would take funding away from the DOE, but that the DOE could effectively be removed from power .
“I need to have supporters in the statehouse to support public education,” she said. “Having an educator who already knows the topic and what’s needed is important.”
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