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Democrat Jennifer McCormick gets teacher union endorsement in race for Indiana governor



Indianapolis, Indiana – Citing Jennifer McCormick’s “common sense and bipartisanship” approach to state politics and education policy, the largest teachers union in Indiana officially endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor on Wednesday.

Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) President Keith Gambill announced that McCormick, a former teacher, and principal who served as Indiana’s final elected superintendent of public instruction from 2017 to 2021, has received the endorsement of I-PACE, the organization’s political action committee, during a speech on the south steps of the Statehouse on Wednesday morning.

She is the sole candidate running for governor on the Democratic primary ballot, and she has essentially guaranteed her spot on the November ballot.

The Republican nomination is up for grabs with six contenders. In the main election, the winner will go up against McCormick and Libertarian contender Donald Rainwater, who was selected at a party convention.

“Today, as we face continuous challenges that threaten the fabric of public education, 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 as a teacher, and a principal and an administrator,” Gambill said. “I call upon all supporters of public education, all who believe in a brighter future for Indiana, to stand with us. Stand with a leader who has proven she can uplift our educational standards and advocate tirelessly for our needs.”

At the announcement ceremony, McCormick addressed a small group of people and stressed that to enhance overall outcomes for Hoosier students, reverse the state’s reading gap, and boost teacher recruitment and retention, Indiana has to reinvest in its traditional public schools rather than private voucher schemes.

“As the governor, I will be committed to kids — kids first, always. I will tell you, though, to make that promise come true, we must take care of our teachers,” McCormick said. “If we take care of our teachers and give them the support that they don’t only need, but that they deserve, everybody wins. Our kids win. Our families win. Our communities win. The State of Indiana wins. We need to make sure that is the goal.”

According to Gambill, McCormick’s candidacy receives financial backing and other resources from I-PACE’s sponsorship. Approximately $1.3 million in cash is currently held by the PAC, according per state campaign finance disclosures. According to Gambill, the organization hasn’t yet determined which additional statewide candidates it will back.

As state superintendent, McCormick, a longtime Republican, lost favor with the Indiana GOP.
The elected post was abolished and replaced with an appointed Secretary of Education by the Republican-controlled legislature, with the governor’s agreement.

Shortly afterward, McCormick changed parties and became a Democrat. She formally filed to run for governor in February 2023, having announced her candidacy in May of the same year.
In her 25 years as a teacher, Angie Hood of Warren Township, Indianapolis, claimed that “things have drastically changed” and that these changes have not been positive. She expressed her desire for McCormick to be employed so that she can provide educators with the resources they require in the classroom.

“There’s been a lot of push for testing. Unfortunately, with the push for testing, we have seen a decline in students’ mental health — as well as teachers’ mental health — because it is a lot of stress on the young people, and they feel like they’re being tested too much. And they are not being encouraged to use the different sensory skills to learn,” Hood said.

“Jennifer understands that schools must meet the needs of individual students,” she continued. “She believes that all students can learn with appropriate support, starting with early childhood through post-secondary education. Her common sense approach is needed to move our community forward.”

During her speech, McCormick lambasted the state’s current education policies, which include raising the bar for student standardized testing and altering the requirements for teacher licenses.
In particular, she criticized a recently enacted regulation mandating that teachers of Pre-K through Grade 6 complete 80 hours of professional development on the science of reading ideas and pass a written exam. Without doing this, teachers won’t be allowed to renew their licenses.

Rensselaer Central High School special education teacher Stacy Kurdelak said she and her coworkers feel “disrespected” by the new rule.

“Along with my 28 years of experience, I hold a master’s degree, I have a professionalized Indiana teaching license in four areas, and I am consistently evaluated as highly effective by my building administrator. But, according to the state, it is no longer enough,” said Kurdelak, who voiced support for McCormick on Wednesday.

“I think it was a knee-jerk reaction to the literacy rate problem,” McCormick added. “I thought it was sloppy, at best. And I just think it was a knee-jerk reaction to appease that they’re doing something under the Republican Party.”

Additionally, McCormick mentioned that “for years,” the state’s youngest students’ literacy intervention programs have been underfunded. According to her, funds required by other school districts to offer summer programs have also been reduced.

She insisted that allocating more funds to those sectors would be a more efficient use of state funds to guarantee that Hoosier children are reading at grade level. However, she warned that addressing the “root causes” of literacy inadequacies “will be expensive.”

The state spends somewhat more than 50% of its biennial budget on education. During the 2025 legislative session, lawmakers will meet together to draft the upcoming budget.

The Democratic candidate also took issue with a different new rule that mandates IREAD standardized testing to start in second grade and go through third grade. If a student fails the test three times, they will be placed back in the third grade.

McCormick stated that universal pre-K education and investing in childcare would be preferable strategies. She pledged that her administration will prioritize those topics if elected.

“(Voters) are tired of extremism. They’re tired of infighting amongst the party. They want a focus on everyday issues impacting our lives, like taking away our healthcare rights and freedoms, like not having access to affordable healthcare, like not having access to great paying jobs. They’re worried about our public schools. They’re worried about their kids’ education. They’re worried about our environment,” McCormick said. “They want to see someone who can have those conversations in a civil, calm, commonsense, bipartisan way.”



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