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Indiana teachers union's political committee endorses Jennifer McCormick for governor

Jennifer McCormick speaks into a microphone on a lectern with Keith Gambill in the background. McCormick is a White woman with blonde hair, wearing a black jacket over a black shirt. Gambill is a White man, bald, wearing glasses and a blue suit.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer McCormick accepted the endorsement of the Indiana Political Action Committee for Education, the political arm of the Indiana State Teachers Association, in front of the Statehouse on April 24, 2024.

The political arm of Indiana’s largest teachers union is putting its resources behind Democrat Jennifer McCormick in the race for governor.

Keith Gambill heads the Indiana State Teachers Association and its political action committee. He said teachers, parents and students want a governor with a forward-thinking and inclusive message built by personal experience in schools.

Gambill said McCormick will provide that in the “bully pulpit” of the governor’s office.

“That message will get out and that, in turn, is what we believe will help drive policy change,” Gambill said.

McCormick, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary, said she will be a common-sense voice for bipartisanship in the Statehouse.

“We are not going to survive as a state if we are uneducated and unhealthy,” McCormick said. “We have to fight for our teachers and our kids.”

READ MORE: Here's what Indiana's Republican gubernatorial candidates have to say about education

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A pair of teachers spoke at the endorsement event. Their grievances are rooted in many of the policy changes crafted by Republican lawmakers over the last decade. That includes the private school voucher program, increased reliance on standardized test scores to govern teacher pay increases, and the recent endorsement requirement imposed on teachers related to literacy.

“We can do better for my students and our community by electing leaders who are willing to work with us – the education professionals – to make informed decisions,” said Stacy Jurdelak, a special education teacher and president of the Rensselaer Central Classroom Teachers Association, an affiliate of ISTA.

McCormick called the new literacy training requirement a “knee-jerk reaction” by Republicans to a problem that has been building for a decade.

“We have got to get on the front end of it,” McCormick said. “We have got to get into quality child care that’s affordable. We’ve got to get into universal pre-K — we’re one of the few states not there. That’s ridiculous.”

A Democrat hasn’t won the governor’s race since 2000.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.