“It’s important we have a place in the political arena, but that respect for our profession is important too. We’ve got to work on that. No one else can do that for us.”
Meredith sees progress on those goals with the surprise election last November of Glenda Ritz, a school teacher and political novice who toppled Tony Bennett in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. The former state schools chief was an aggressive advocate for reform and a quick enemy of ISTA when it tried to block some of his plans.
Meredith credits the victory to Ritz’s impressive grassroots campaign, which leveraged the influence of teachers in local communities to sway voters for Ritz.
“It probably gave teachers the biggest glimmer of hope they could have been given,” Meredith said.
“People didn’t vote for Glenda because they didn’t like Tony Bennett,” she added. “They went to vote for her because they knew somebody who knew an educator who knew Glenda’s story. That’s why they did it. And we have to be able replicate that.”
— Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org