1:57 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Indiana Schools Chief's Race Getting National Scrutiny

The campaign to lead Indiana's education department is being watched as a referendum on school policies pushed by conservatives across the country.

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett is seeking a second term. Before being elected, Bennett was a longtime southern Indiana educator and former superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools.

He's opposed by Democrat Glenda Ritz, who is a suburban Indianapolis teacher and a former president of her local teachers' union.

Bennett has earned a national reputation for implementing widespread changes like private school vouchers and merit pay for teachers.

But he is under siege by teachers who feel they're being unfairly blamed for declining school performance. Ritz argues Bennett's agenda is a thinly veiled attempt to privatize public education.

Bennett's campaign has a heavy advantage in funding.

National education experts say the election results will show whether the public supports Bennett's policies, which are being copied around the country.