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Candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction debate

The candidates vying to be Indiana’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction took the stage Wednesday night at Wabash College in Crawfordsville for an election forum.

Republican incumbent Tony Bennett believes in holding students, teachers and schools accountable. So he'll give his first term in office a "B." He says his only mistake has been allowing his opponents to paint him as a politician who wants to privatize schools.

"In terms of school turnaround, my bottom line is those children learn. I promise you, we're going to get my bottom line before the business gets its bottom line.”

If reelected, Bennett says he’ll work to improve the initiatives he’s pursued in the last four years. He also says he’ll push for legislation that allows state intervention in struggling school districts.

Democrat Glenda Ritz is challenging Bennett. She's campaigning to roll back many of his key policies, like high stakes testing and teacher evaluations. She’s opposed to a district takeover provision and doesn’t think private companies should be running five turnaround schools in Indianapolis and Gary.

“I'm not sure the Department of Education did its job to be proactive to be sure we had the proper bottom up support that was needed in the first place.”

If elected, Ritz says she’ll work closely with educators to ensure Indiana students receive quality instruction in reading and literacy. She also wants to see the state overhaul its standardized test.

The two candidates will debate again Friday, October 26, in Fort Wayne. You can hear the exchange HERE beginning at 7 p.m.