A statewide listening tour with Indiana’s schools chief and a state senator kicked off Thursday night. The duo will focus on education concerns from Hoosiers, but the tour isn’t without controversy.
After it was announced, the chairman of Indiana’s Republican party sharply criticized State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick for joining state Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) on the statewide listening tour. Melton is considering a run for governor.
GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer said in a statement following the announcement it seemed like McCormick was auditioning for a spot on a potential Democratic 2020 ticket.
“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,” he said.
But McCormick says she’s focused on what should be a nonpartisan issue.
“Education isn’t about a party, education is about kids and it’s extremely important that we come together and we are good listeners,” McCormick says.
People at the meeting discussed a wide range of concerns, including a lack of charter school accountability at the state level, the need for more representation and diversity in education and policymaking, and funding support for teachers and schools.
Melton plans to bring feedback from the tour to the statehouse one way or another, because he says the state has fallen short on creating education policies to benefit all Hoosiers.
“Education should not be a political issue. It should be an issue that we all can collectively come around and figure out how do we provide the best education for every single child in the state of Indiana no matter what zip code they live in,” he says.
The next stop featuring both Melton and McCormick is in Fort Wayne Monday.