Cookies, coffee and an appearance from Glenda Ritz drew Monroe County community members Monday night to raise awareness for the state superintendent of public instruction’s re-election campaign.
The event at Hopscotch Coffee, which was open to the public, also aimed to raise campaign funds. All donations were payable to Ritz 4 Education.
Jane Kupersmith, an owner of Hopscotch Coffee in Bloomington, said a regular at the coffee shop is connected to Ritz’s campaign manager. She said they were excited to be a supporter of the campaign by hosting the event.
“I co-own Hopscotch, and my husband is an educator, it’s in his family.” Kupersmith said. “So I feel like we’re always kind of aware with the superintendent’s office, and it sort of trickles down locally.”
Ritz attended the event as a meet-and-greet opportunity for community members to ask questions about her campaign and platform.
Ritz said she feels the same strong energy she felt during her campaign in 2012, with educators spreading the word about what the department has been doing for children.
People approached Ritz throughout the event, shaking her hand and asking her questions before her speech.
She addressed the people in the coffee shop in a speech about her platform and how her campaign has been going so far. She talked about the removal of teaching to the test learning and encouraging equal opportunity for all students no matter the school.
“Most people know the politics of things, they don’t really have a good sense of what we’ve been doing for the children,” Ritz said. “So getting the word out is important. The one thing I want people to know is you voted for me in 2012, and I’ve been doing my job.”
She said expanding outreach and making sure kids are getting the services they need in schools directly in each region of the state is important going forward if she is re-elected.
“Every single thing happens at the local level, it does not happen at the state level, whether it be the education of our children or the jobs we have, it happens at the local level.” Ritz said.
She said all parents should get a tax deduction on textbooks and materials, something private schools have — but public education does not.
“I really don’t care where children go to school,” Ritz said. “It’s really about the instruction, the leaders in the schools, what happens in the school, not the type. That’s my job to support the schools going along with the public space.”
The rest of the event was an open dialogue, with Ritz answering questions on student systems.
Rebecca Swanson, a teacher at Bloomington High School North, said when she started teaching the politics of education did not affect the classroom as much as she said she believes it does today.
She said people often assume public education is wasting money. She said she believes there is a misconception that public schools are not performing and students are not learning.
“In the last seven or eight years, I have really seen a change,” Swanson said. “I feel like there has been negative talk about public education.”
She said Ritz can reiterate that public education is successful in the state of Indiana.
Ritz won the Democratic nomination in the primary election unopposed. She will be on the ballot Nov. 8 running against Yorktown Community Schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, the Republican nominee.
“The state of Indiana doesn’t really have any business labeling how a kid should feel about themselves,” Ritz said. “We have permission from the federal government to not label our schools, and I’m looking forward to furthering that conversation.”