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EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer McCormick sits down with ABC21 for first interview since leaving office

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CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- Jennifer McCormick may not be leading Indiana's education system anymore, but she says that's not keeping her from being a part of the solution.

McCormick, now working as the Senior Vice President of EES Analytics, sat down with ABC21's Krista Miller for the station's special presentation of "Political Radar" to share her thoughts on the state of Indiana's education system and to reflect on her time as the last elected leader of Indiana's education system.

"So it was tough to be the last elected. Number 44. And knowing there wasn't going to be a 45th" said McCormick. " I struggle with that not being an elected position any longer because where's the voice of the people? It's not in our state board of education. It's not in our Department of Education. You know, it's one office that has a lot of power, and that's the Governor's office."

McCormick's time in office saw her at odds with Governor Eric Holcomb in what direction to take the state's education system.

"The governor, and I, I think he's a lovely person, I, we could get along just fine. But philosophically, I think we were very different as far as our approaches on education. I approached it from the beginning of my term in office that I wanted to make sure he was very informed that I had data for him and that there was a communication avenue, making sure that he understood what was happening with education, I respect his position, it's a big job," said McCormick. "So I approached it one way that didn't maybe work the way I thought it would work."

McCormick's philosophical differences led her to split with Republican Party and campaign for Holcomb's Democratic Challenger, Woody Myers, in the 2020 election.

"But there were just more pieces to it that I found myself more and more aligned to the Democrat Party, it didn't take long just because of the nature of the State House."

Krista Miller asked McCormick when she realized the Republican Party was not the party she was aligned with.

"Yeah, so that didn't take long, to be honest," said McCormick. "So I would run into Democrats and Republicans alike that their desires of education certainly were not being reflected at the statehouse, there was a small pocket of people who had a lot of money for donations for politics that it did reflect, but it didn't take long to know that my philosophies on education, in particular, were really not aligned... But there were just more pieces to it that I found myself more and more aligned to the Democrat Party, it didn't take long just because of the nature of the State House."

Those differences with the Republican Party continue to manifest themselves as McCormick and other former Superintendents of Public Instruction have publicly denounced HB 1005, a Republican-sponsored bill that would expand the state's school voucher program.

"It's not about serving students who are most vulnerable... students of color. It's not, it's about taking care of wealthy families"

-Jennifer McCormick on HB 1005

"Yeah, 1005 is a struggle. I mean, it is a blatant attack on public schools, in an effort to privatize, it's also it's not about choice. It's not about serving students who are most vulnerable students of color. It's not, it's about taking care of wealthy families, and making sure that the money follows the wealth. And that's exactly what it's about across the nation. We've heard people talk about it that are experts and watching the data."

As for what's next for the former Superintendent of Public Instruction?

"It's a great question. So right now I am the Senior VP of a company called EES analytics. It's a visualization platform. And it's exciting, it stills helping K-12 schools. So I still want to stay in the mix of being part of the solution. I'm still very interested in what's happening politically in Indiana. It's one of those things that I can't unlearn what I learned. And I know how important it is that there is a voice. So I am helping out as much as I can and you know, kind of behind more behind the scenes in the political arena. So that still interests me."

Ian Hoover

Ian Hoover is the Content Manager of Fort Wayne’s NBC and ABC21. His focus is managerial oversight of content including working with reporters on elements for their stories and with producers for deeper content in newscasts; long-range planning and content development; editorial meeting oversight; and special projects management.

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