July 26, 2016

GOP Governor Nominee Holcomb Gives Slim Insight On Educational Policy In First Press Conference

Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb was nominated as the GOP’s gubernatorial  candidate after a vote this afternoon by the Indiana Republican central committee.

This puts some distance to the brutal public fights over policy and power between Gov. Mike Pence and Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz -- a saga that drove division lines among educators and the public alike.

Eric Holcomb

Holcomb, 48, has not been apart of those battles -- he's only been lieutenant governor for four months.

Yet he is aligned with the Indiana's majority Republican party who pushed school reforms the past 12 years -- from expanding availability and funding for vouchers and charter schools to teacher evaluations. He was the campaign manager to former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who ushered in the sweeping changes with former state schools chief Tony Bennett, and was once the state Republican chairman.

So about 15 minutes after winning the nomination in a private vote, where does Holcomb say he stands on education policy and working with that other elected official across the Statehouse rotunda -- state superintendent?

Here’s his complete response, as broadcast via CBS 4, to those questions during a press conference held directly after the nominating committee tallied its votes.

“I want to be the best partner I can be for anyone that wants to make sure that every kid in Indiana has access to the best education available. I want Indiana to be known as that. That is a big driver when it comes to, not just improving someone's life but having access to all options but also building out state. We need it for a 21st Century workforce -- it is just demanded. I am going to work and try to be the best partner I can with anyone -- anyone -- who says they want a Hoosier kid to have access to an extra ordinary education."

How about support for expanding state-funded pre-k?

"I am all for it when it is responsibly done. I’ll work toward it."

Pence managed to get lawmakers support for his On My Way Pre-K pilot program that has provided vouchers to 2,300 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds in the past two years. After rejecting an attempt to seek federal support for preschool, Pence has now said he is open to applying for $80 million in federal money to expand the program.

Ritz and Democrat gubernatorial candidate John Gregg have proposed a $150 million per year funding plan for universal prekindergarten -- not just low-income children.

As Holcomb makes a huge push to get his name out to the public -- while Pence focuses on being the running mate of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump -- how much time will he spend on the trail with Yorktown Schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick in her challenge against Ritz?

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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