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Last modified: Monday, September 22, 2008

Indiana Superintendent candidates facing off in two debates presented by IU School of Education organizations

Sept. 25 "town hall" debate at IUPUI; Sept. 30 debate at Bloomington South

Sept. 22, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The candidates for the Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction will face off twice in five days during debates presented by organizations of the Indiana University School of Education. Republican Tony Bennett and Democrat Richard Wood will answer questions from audience members and members of the media in each debate.

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

The first is a town hall-style debate, where audience members can ask questions of the candidates, on Thursday, Sept. 25, starting at 6 p.m. in the IUPUI Campus Center (CE 450, located at 420 University Blvd. in Indianapolis). On the following Tuesday, Sept. 30, also at 6 p.m., Bennett and Wood will face a panel of media members and answer audience questions in a debate at the Bloomington High School South auditorium. Both debates are free and open to the public, although attendees need to request free tickets for the Indianapolis event at the IU School of Education at IUPUI.

The debate at IUPUI is sponsored by the IU School of Education at IUPUI, Secondary Urban Educators (SUE) student organization, and the Young Democrats and Young Republicans. The SUE organization is dedicated to issues relating to urban education in Indianapolis, developing connections within urban schools and helping urban schools with projects.

"The students involved in the Secondary Urban Educators group are passionate about issues related to urban education and see themselves as change agents," said Pat Rogan, executive associate dean of the IU School of Education at IUPUI. "By taking a leadership role in sponsoring this event, they are demonstrating their commitment to addressing current issues in education while also providing a service to the community."

SUE's event organizer Tilden Brown said members plan to ask a variety of questions of the candidates.

Richard Wood

Richard Wood

"As a group focused on urban education, we would like to hear their ideas on how to improve the education outcomes and opportunities for students in our urban school districts," Brown said.

The Sept. 30 debate is the second in the 2008-2009 Policy Chat series presented by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) at the IU School of Education. Co-sponsors include WTIU, WFIU and the Bloomington Herald-Times. Representatives from those media organizations as well as the Indianapolis Star and Evansville Courier and Press will each ask questions of Bennett and Wood.

"We are fortunate to have some of the best education reporters from around the state participating in the Policy Chat to pose thoughtful questions that should help identify philosophical differences between the candidates," said Terry Spradlin, associate director of education policy at CEEP.

For the first time in 16 years, an incumbent is not seeking re-election to the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The state superintendent serves as the chairman of the Indiana State Board of Education as well as the CEO of the Department of Education. Indiana is one of 13 states to elect its chief state school officer, and one of seven to do so through a partisan ballot.

"Our new state superintendent of public instruction will play a prominent role in the development, advocacy and implementation of K-12 education policies that impact the 293 school corporations in Indiana" Spradlin said.

Wood recently retired after 19 years as the superintendent of Tippecanoe School Corporation in Lafayette. He was President of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents in 1998-99 and was a charter member of the Indiana Education Roundtable. He has an education specialist degree from Butler University and a doctorate in education from IU.

Bennett is in his second year as the superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools. He received his doctorate from Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. His experience ranges from building administration to central office administration, and his background includes curriculum and instruction, strategic planning, continuous improvement, school operations, facilities planning and construction, human resources, labor relations and contract negotiations.

CEEP promotes and supports rigorous program evaluation and policy research primarily, but not exclusively, for education, human services and non-profit organizations. Its research uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. To learn more about CEEP, go to

For more information about free tickets for the debate at IUPUI, call the IU School of Education at IUPUI at 317-274-6801 or e-mail