Indiana school leader defends criticism from GOP

Indiana News

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Taking heat for taking part, Indiana’s top educator, who was elected as a Republican, is being criticized for working alongside a Democratic state senator.

The pair embarked on a statewide listening tour Thursday to hear what people have to say about education.

Jennifer McCormick, the Indiana superintendent of public instruction, said state Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary asked her to be part of his tour.

“I was thrilled that he asked,” McCormick said. “I’ve never been one that was all about party.”

Some Republicans questioned her motives.

“It’s very limited from what I’m hearing. Part of that came from, obviously, from party leadership and questioned my loyalty.” McCormick said. “That’s one of those comments that I’ve been very clear … it doesn’t even require a response.”

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupher released a statement on July 1: “Today’s announcement seems to confirm the rumors of the last few weeks: that Jennifer McCormick is auditioning for a new job — including as the lieutenant governor nominee on the Democrat ticket in 2020. After being on stage at our Republican Conventions in 2016 and 2018, running on GOP ideals in 2016 and accepting campaign aid from thousands of Republican Party supporters across the state, it begs the question whether Jennifer McCormick is still a Republican. I’m sure someone will ask her that soon.”

McCormick said, “For that kind of thing to come just because of a bipartisan effort is quite frustrating. Ninty-nine percent of what we’re hearing is superpositive from both sides of the aisle.”

McCormick will be Indiana’s last elected superintendent for public instruction. In this past legislative session, state lawmakers decided to speed up the appointment of a secretary of education to January 2021.

In June, Melton announced he has his eyes on the governor’s race and formed a gubernatorial exploratory team.

The state superintendent for public instruction is on five statewide stops with Melton including stops in Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne and Hammond. Politics aside, McCormick said they’re focused on the children and hearing what Hoosiers have to say about education.

“We want to hear about the K-12. What are your concerns with the communities? What should be on your radar for state leaders? What are concerns or opportunities? I think it really is just a matter of listening. We will provide data, if asked,” McCormick said.

Statement

“I commend Dr. Jennifer McCormick for her leadership and strength to keep the children, teachers, and families a priority in Indiana, even as she endures harsh criticism from the Indiana GOP. I am committed to working with her and anyone that has a sincere desire to improve our state’s educational system and increase the compensation for our teachers.”

Eddie Melton, via his campaign

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