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State's top educator takes heat for joining a Democrat's listening tour

Indiana's top educator, a Republican, is joining a Democratic state senator and possible candidate for governor on a listening tour to hear what Hoosiers have to say about education.
Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, speaking to the media at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 (TheStatehouseFile.com Photo/Adrianna Pitrelli)

INDIANAPOLIS (Statehouse File) — Indiana’s top educator, a Republican, is joining a Democratic state senator and possible candidate for governor on a listening tour to hear what Hoosiers have to say about education.

It's a move that has Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer accusing Jennifer McCormick, superintendent of public instruction, of auditioning for the lieutenant governor's spot on next year's Democratic ticket.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, announced this week that McCormick will join him at the launch of a statewide tour to discuss education. Melton has formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee, but he has not officially announced his candidacy for governor.

State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, discusses Senate Democrats' 2019 legislative agenda, in a press conference Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (TheStatehouseFile.com Photo/Eddie Drews)

Hupfer said in a press release that the announcement confirms rumors that McCormick is auditioning for a new job.

"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 in a press release. "I'm sure someone will ask her that soon."

Adam Baker, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education, said McCormick was asked to attend a few education events focused on learning and listening, which is why she is participating.

"Any time Jennifer's been invited to have the conversations about where we are in education in Indiana and where we need to go, she's been there," he said in a written response to questions. "And that’s exactly what this is."

Baker said McCormick will be at these events as an individual and not attending the events in her official capacity.

"We have north of 72,000 educators and over 1.2 million students that deserve our time, energy, focus, support, and real solutions to problems plaguing education today," Baker said. "Set the politics aside, invite any and all to the table, and let's focus on academic excellence for our children, and sustainable support for our teachers. That's what matters."

Melton, a first-term senator, has been holding town halls to discuss education, economic opportunity, minimum wage and the Department of Veterans Affairs with Hoosiers.

"I am excited that Dr. McCormick will be joining our Hoosier Community Conversations and sharing her expertise and passion about education across the state with me," Melton said in a press release. "It is an honor to share this platform with Dr. McCormick, who has been an advocate for Indiana's students and families."

McCormick announced in October that she would not seek re-election in 2020. Starting in 2021, the post will be appointed by the governor.

McCormick will be participating in five of Melton's 16 upcoming events. If you're interested, you can register for tickets online.

This content was reproduced from TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College.

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