INDIANAPOLIS – GOP Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick surprised reporters Monday by announcing she will not seek a second term in 2020.
The news came in the middle of her outlining her legislative agenda for next year.
McCormick said the governance structure in Indiana is not healthy and makes it hard to focus on helping kids.
She runs the Indiana Department of Education and implements education policy. But the State Board of Education often butts heads with the superintendent, and lawmakers in recent years have carved out more and more issues for the state board to control rather than the department.
"We've done some great work. When I got into this office my charge was I want to do what's best for kids. I think back and I was so cute. I was so naive," McCormick said. "Now that I've learned the governance structure, things are very complicated in Indiana."
In 2017 lawmakers at the urge of Gov. Eric Holcomb decided to move the superintendent's post from elected to appointed starting in 2024. McCormick said some people are talking about moving that up to 2020, and the discussion is causing concern among educators and distracting her from helping students.
"As a parent I would not be happy if my state superintendent...were spending time on noise, and that's simply what this has become," she said. "For that conversation to keep coming up and suck all of our energies out, to me I'm growing very weary of that, so the best way I can help shut that down is to let people know I'm not running again."
McCormick also said repeatedly that citizens should have a voice in education. The State Board of Education is also appointed.
Under the system alignment, she said there are often mixed messages. She planned to speak to Holcomb today about her decision.
"I don't owe anyone but kids," McCormick said.