Indiana governor challengers name education department picks

Woody Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner who is challenging Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reelection bid, announced during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate that he plans to appoint current state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick to lead the state education department if he’s elected.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 1:47 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Democratic candidate for Indiana governor is trying to spur support in the last days of the campaign by highlighting the state schools superintendent position that isn’t being decided by voters for the first time in more than a century.

Woody Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner who is challenging Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reelection bid, announced during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate that he plans to appoint current state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick to lead the state education department if he’s elected.

Under new state law, the state schools chief is no longer on the ballot.

Instead, a secretary of education — largely charged with implementing and administering policy — will be appointed by the governor, bringing a new emphasis on education to the governor’s race.

Myers said during a news conference Thursday that “the dire situation for Indiana teachers” has created a need for an education secretary “who will put Indiana teachers, kids and schools back on the right track.” McCormick, he continued, “already knows” how to do the job.

The switch to a governor-appointed state education secretary was originally approved by Indiana’s General Assembly, with a planned start date of 2025.

Lawmakers filed legislation last year to move the change up to 2021, however, after McCormick announced that she would not seek a second term in 2020.

McCormick said Thursday she switched her position and accepted the tap from Myers to ensure “continuity” within the state’s education department, especially amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Her “outrage” over “woefully underfunded” teachers and schools across the state also influenced her desire to remain in office, she said.

“I know how difficult my position is,” McCormick said. “It’s also frustrating what’s happening regarding public education, and some of the policy-heavy ways Indiana is approaching K-12.”

McCormick’s recent endorsements of Democrats laid bare her split from Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders since she was elected to be state schools superintendent in 2016 with Republican Party support.

She has disagreed with Republican legislators on several education issues including the use of standardized testing to rate schools and teachers, and her support for increased scrutiny of charter and voucher schools that receive state money.

After McCormick endorsed Myers for governor last month, a state Republican spokesman said it was “not surprising that a Democrat is endorsing a Democrat.”

McCormick said Thursday her endorsements are an attempt to help break the Republican supermajority in the Indiana legislature. Her hope, she said, is “to get some champions of public education” in the Statehouse.

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Donald Rainwater announced Thursday he would select as education secretary Dawn Wooten, an English instructor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, if he’s elected governor in November.

Wooten ran as a Republican candidate for Indiana superintendent of public instruction in 2016 and was defeated by McCormick at the Republican state party convention.

During a news conference Thursday, Wooten said she would eliminate Common Core academic standards and standardized testing, and “streamline” Department of Education funds to “improve Indiana schools and compensate our teachers as they deserve.”

Rainwater, an information technology manager from Westfield, has gained support from some conservatives for his criticism of Holcomb’s statewide mask mandate and other executive orders issued over the past seven months in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Holcomb has so far remained quiet about any potential appointment picks, telling WYFI Public Media earlier this month that he’ll review recommendations after the November election.

The governor already appoints the majority of the members of the State Board of Education — the body tasked with setting much of the state’s education policy.

Roughly 37 other states across the country also select the state’s education chief through appointment.

Opponents of the new process in Indiana have argued the move concentrates power with the governor at the expense of voters.

Republican state legislators maintain the appointment change will allow better coordination between the governor and the state’s Department of Education.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300913

Reported Deaths: 5332
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41330845
Lake26364448
Allen17299290
Elkhart16665212
St. Joseph16319220
Hamilton12459164
Vanderburgh9428112
Tippecanoe826727
Porter791279
Johnson6139164
Hendricks5807154
Vigo574474
Monroe525247
Clark495374
Delaware4789103
Madison4760119
LaPorte446894
Kosciusko446139
Howard325575
Warrick316072
Floyd306177
Bartholomew303262
Wayne295261
Cass293431
Marshall289944
Grant258747
Noble246846
Hancock243749
Henry237136
Boone235154
Dubois230430
Dearborn208829
Jackson206033
Morgan200643
Knox178017
Gibson177022
Clinton174920
Shelby174554
Lawrence171646
DeKalb171229
Adams165219
Miami155114
Wabash153018
Daviess152243
Fayette145233
Steuben141113
Jasper138311
Harrison137624
LaGrange136629
Montgomery131226
Whitley129910
Ripley123714
Decatur123542
Huntington122310
Posey118913
Putnam118326
Wells118327
Randolph117819
White117421
Clay115621
Jefferson114214
Greene100253
Scott99818
Jay95012
Starke89221
Sullivan86615
Fulton81117
Perry80921
Jennings80514
Spencer8047
Fountain7378
Washington7176
Carroll66813
Franklin65925
Orange65728
Vermillion5832
Owen5816
Parke5416
Newton54012
Tipton53726
Rush5216
Blackford51211
Pike50218
Pulaski36810
Martin3485
Brown3263
Benton3251
Crawford2781
Union2621
Switzerland2473
Warren2352
Ohio2257
Unassigned0265

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 363304

Reported Deaths: 6020
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin49267665
Cuyahoga35214736
Hamilton29462371
Montgomery19636225
Butler14472144
Lucas14033409
Summit12962310
Stark8529197
Warren798975
Mahoning7068299
Lake662766
Lorain623697
Clermont563946
Delaware540335
Licking535875
Fairfield523763
Trumbull5159144
Greene510563
Clark501064
Allen460685
Marion457751
Wood4394107
Medina428654
Miami416465
Pickaway396448
Columbiana339597
Portage334471
Tuscarawas317557
Wayne314993
Richland306732
Mercer284737
Ross239259
Hancock232736
Muskingum231910
Auglaize223230
Putnam221449
Erie217165
Darke217058
Ashtabula215753
Geauga197351
Scioto193615
Union18658
Lawrence185436
Shelby184815
Athens18454
Seneca173118
Belmont158529
Madison156218
Sandusky152327
Preble148421
Huron147518
Defiance137921
Holmes137739
Logan123613
Knox122518
Fulton122025
Crawford119116
Ottawa118930
Washington116427
Clinton103414
Ashland102722
Williams10238
Jefferson10124
Highland99517
Henry98422
Brown9644
Champaign9345
Jackson90312
Van Wert8976
Fayette89217
Hardin86118
Morrow8552
Guernsey83313
Coshocton81413
Perry77012
Adams75012
Pike7261
Wyandot70516
Gallia70413
Paulding62710
Hocking61011
Noble59722
Carroll44310
Meigs37612
Monroe31021
Morgan2395
Vinton2105
Harrison1913
Unassigned00
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