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Indiana’s largest teachers union endorses Jennifer McCormick for governor

Teachers’ union endorses Jennifer McCormick for Indiana governor

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Democratic governor candidate Jennifer McCormick on Wednesday said Indiana can reverse its lagging educational scores if it reinvests in traditional public schools.

The Indiana State Teachers Association announced its political action committee, I-PACE, has endorsed McCormick in her campaign for the state’s highest office. McCormick, a former teacher and principal who was Indiana’s final elected superintendent of public instruction from 2017 to 2021, is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

ISTA President Keith Gambill said McCormick was an unwavering supporter of traditional public schools throughout her time in office.

“She managed over half of our state’s budget with integrity and a focus on efficiency, directing funds where they were most needed,” he said. “We need a leader like Dr. McCormick, someone who understands these issues deeply, not just from the perspective of policy but through the lens of personal experience.”

Education has played a central role in McCormick’s campaign. She has been an especially vocal critic of state lawmakers’ decision to expand eligibility for school choice vouchers, saying it robs urban and rural schools of badly needed funding. She said she would send more funding back to traditional public schools and would ensure teachers and schools face a clear and consistent set of expectations for curriculum and training.

“If we take care of our teachers and we give them the support that they don’t only need but they deserve, everybody wins,” she said. “Our kids win. Our families win. Our communities win. The state of Indiana wins.”

The PACE’s endorsement gives her campaign the backing of an organization with strong financial support. State filings show I-PACE has about $1.3 million cash on hand and Gambill said the committee hasn’t decided if it will support any other statewide candidates. McCormick’s campaign has about $222,000, well behind the war chests of Republicans Mike Braun, Suzanne Crouch, Eric Doden, and Brad Chambers.

McCormick criticized frequent changes to teaching requirements, such as lawmakers’ creation of an adjunct teacher program that does not require a license. When News 8 asked McCormick if she blamed changes to teacher licensing for a recent incident where lawyers claim an IPS teacher encouraged his students to beat up a child with special needs, she replied she doesn’t think teacher standards can be blamed for any one particular incident but better training and resources are needed. She also said the process to revoke a teaching license is too slow.

McCormick also took a swipe at this year’s top legislative priority, a new law that requires literacy testing to begin in second grade and holds back students who fail the IREAD test three times. She said investments in child care and providing universal pre-K education would go much further toward fixing Indiana’s literacy crisis.