Republican Jennifer McCormick has been elected Indiana’s state schools superintendent, defeating Democratic incumbent Glenda Ritz.

“I ran for State Superintendent because Indiana needs vision and leadership at the Department of Education. Hoosiers listened to our message, and tonight, we have earned the privilege of leading the department for the next four years,” McCormick said in a press release. “During my campaign, I have emphasized my non-negotiables – the goals which will form the basis for my tenure as State Superintendent. The Department of Education will form partnerships with stakeholders, establish a credible assessment system, ensure educators have quality tools and resources, and most importantly, put our students first.

“Thank you for your support and confidence.”

McCormick is currently superintendent of the Yorktown Community Schools near Muncie. She ran a campaign critical of Ritz’s management of the Education Department and maintained she could work better with the Republican-dominated legislature.

Ritz was the only Democrat among Indiana’s elected state officeholders for the past four years. She clashed frequently with Republican Gov. Mike Pence and GOP lawmakers over issues such as administration of the A-F school ratings system and expansion of the state’s private school voucher and charter school programs.

"I have spent the last four years fighting for students and supporting schools,” Ritz said in her concession speech. “It's been an incredible honor to serve as your superintendent of public instruction for the last four years. A few moments [ago], I got off the phone with my opponent. I congratulated her on her win. There is work to do to continue building an education system of equity and high quality focused on student centered accountability."

Ritz had a message for Hoosiers before walking off the stage in Indianapolis in tears Nov. 8.

“Hoosier educators and families, this is a call to you. You must be part of the conversation to be strong advocates for our children and public education. Be a loud voice at the state house. Thank you,” Ritz said.

McCormick will be involved in upcoming debates over the state’s selection of a new standardized exam to replace the much-maligned ISTEP and the push for expansion of state-funded preschool programs.

While many students didn’t know much about this part of the election when compared to the presidential or gubernatorial race, some education majors, like Haley Crane, a senior English education major, paid close attention to the superintendent races because she believed the winner would impact the future of teaching.

Crane voted for Ritz and supported the candidate because of her background as a teacher.

"She understands the struggles of teachers attempting to meet our student's diverse learning needs," she said.

The Ball State senior described education "as a very political matter."

Additionally, she believes there should be more educators in office that can help address issues like high-stakes testing, budget cuts and teacher shortages.

"Teachers are on the frontlines of education," she said

Morgan Masters, a freshman special education and early elementary major, has a family background in education. Her mom is a teacher.

Master’s said she thinks state politics affects education the most. She remembers her mom supporting Glenda Ritz in the past.

She added that education should be more of a state issue instead of a national issue.

“I feel like it should be more of a state [issue] because they are closer [to the students] and would know the situation more,” Masters said.